Very Good. Item #9279
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1901. First Edition, First Impression. Octavo (20x14x3cm); 319pp. Honey-brown cloth with gilt rules and lettering on front panel and spine; textblock top gilt, other edges untrimmed. [BAL 10644, showing called-for nail head impressions in gutters; Phillips p. 59; Edel-Laurence A55]
Very slight soiling overall with five darker speckles on spine, somewhat blended in. Binding solid; joints and hinges robust. Textblock unmarred and unmarked.
James's only full-length novel to use a first-person narrator. That narrator, at a weekend house-party, remains unnamed to us but well known to all the other guests—fully named—with whom he theorizes actively about the intimate relations of those present. His hypothesis? In an amorous relation, the growing buoyant vibrancy of one partner necessitates the drainage and depletion of life from the other partner. The novel is dazzling; it is an epistemological labyrinth; it is a thrilling mess—three characteristics shared by the prurient curiosity emanating from Henry James's closet.
The last two pages of text in this copy, alone of all the pages, are unopened, suggesting that the previous owner never actually read the brilliantly downplayed and ethically shocking final sentence.