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In the Cage

Henry James

Book Overview: 

In the Cage is a novella by Henry James. This long story centers on an unnamed London telegraphist. She deciphers clues to her clients' personal lives from the often cryptic telegrams they submit to her as she sits in the "cage" at the post office. Sensitive and intelligent, the telegraphist eventually finds out more than she may want to know. (Introduction from Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Mrs. Jordan, have found her way about one of the “homes.”  Little by little, however, she had caught on, above all in the light of what Mrs. Jordan’s redemption had materially made of that lady, giving her, though the years and the struggles had naturally not straightened a feature, an almost super-eminent air.  There were women in and out of Cocker’s who were quite nice and who yet didn’t look well; whereas Mrs. Jordan looked well and yet, with her extraordinarily protrusive teeth, was by no means quite nice.  It would seem, mystifyingly, that it might really come from all the greatness she could live with.  It was fine to hear her talk so often of dinners of twenty and of her doing, as she said, exactly as she liked with them.  She spoke as if, for that matter, she invited the company.  “They simply give me the table—all the rest, all the other effects, come afterwards.”

CHAPTER VII

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Community Reviews

I’m a bit disappointed. The plot is easy but in spite of this the book results rather dull. It was neither engaging nor profound.

A rueful, gently comic novella -- neglected because scholars couldn't explain its 'misfit' in the James canon. Its focus is the working-class whose lives are a grind for God & Country. In pre-telephone days, c. 1900, a likeable telegraphist, engaged to a grocer, becomes involved in the coded...more

how does he know so well what it's like to have a shitty job?

What a conjuring trick! Henry James, the third-generation scion of American plutocracy, cushioned comfortably all his life by a family trust-fund, socialising with the aristocratic elite of two continents, has a look at the life of a working-class telegraphist. The surprise is he shows exactly wh...more

A menudo, los libros de Henry James son como una partida de póker. Es decir, una reunión de personajes sentados alrededor de una mesa, observándose mutuamente mientras guardan silencio y preparan su jugada. Por un momento no ocurre nada; sin embargo, en la mente de esos jugadores ocurre todo. En...more

Only James could take an unnamed girl working in a telegraph office and turn her in to one of the most complex characters I've even studied.

I've read Henry James before a few years ago (The Beast in the Jungle) and I really enjoyed his ideas, characters and intelligent storytelling but I found the writing extremely heavy and flowery to enjoy and after a while I found it difficult to follow the story. This time around though (and perh...more

Sometimes I get the sense that Henry James hates women and woefully misreads them. Other times I get the sense that Henry James understood women on a more desperate level, at least for the times. This little novella straddles the two.

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