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The Jolly Corner

Henry James

Book Overview: 

“The Jolly Corner,” is considered by many to be a ghost story ranking second only to “The Turn of the Screw.” James’s protagonist, Spencer Brydon, is an American of 56, returned to New York after 33 years in Europe, where he has apparently accomplished little while living off his New York rentals. His friendship with Alice Staverton, and his engagement in the development of a property awaken him to the possibilities that might have been his, had he chosen a different course of life. The “ghost,” if that’s what it is, is that other self that might have been, and his confrontation with that self and its possibilities leads to a deeply unsettling, yet ambiguous, conclusion.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .He had found the place, just as it stood and beyond what he could express, an interest and a joy.  There were values other than the beastly rent-values, and in short, in short—!  But it was thus Miss Staverton took him up.  “In short you’re to make so good a thing of your sky-scraper that, living in luxury on those ill-gotten gains, you can afford for a while to be sentimental here!”  Her smile had for him, with the words, the particular mild irony with which he found half her talk suffused; an irony without bitterness and that came, exactly, from her having so much imagination—not, like the cheap sarcasms with which one heard most people, about the world of “society,” bid for the reputation of cleverness, from nobody’s really having any.  It was agreeable to him at this very moment to be sure that when he had answered, after a brief demur, “Well, yes; so, precisely, you may put it!” her . . . Read More

Community Reviews

I had to read this for one of my university classes and I hate to admit that I didn't particularly enjoy it. I think it was trying to do something, but I'm very uncertain what that something is. For the most part, I found the entire story quite boring and even though it was a short read it took me q

Η ανόθευτη και γοητευτική γητειά του Χένρυ Τζαίημς ξορκίζει πάντα το φάντασμα της ζωής
που φανερώνεται μόνο στον εξωπραγματικό κόσμο
μιας άλλης δημιουργίας, του στοιχειωμένου ταυτόσημου, διπλού εαυτού.

Είναι το πλάσμα της ζωής που ενεδρεύει μέσα μας
αλλά ποτέ δεν ζει,
ποτέ δεν αποκτά υπόσταση,

2.5, rounded down.

I'm not a fan of James - his prose is way too flowery and longwinded for my taste, and there doesn't ever seem to be much of a plot - so the only reason I read this is because it figures prominently in Domenico Starnone's 'Trick', which I wanted to read, and which translator Jhumpa

Sometimes you take a bite out of literature, and sometimes literature takes a bite out of you. Reading The Jolly Corner exhausted me; Henry James's prose, while apt and detailed, felt drawn-out and extended in ways that served only to fulfill the "intellectual for the sake of sounding intellectual"

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