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Roderick Hudson Unknown Binding – 1947

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Lehmann (1947)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001OR7D2Q
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Henry James was born in 1843 in Washington Place, New York, of Scottish and Irish ancestry. His father was a prominent theologian and philosopher and his elder brother, William, is also famous as a philosopher. He attended schools in New York and later in London, Paris and Geneva, entering the Law School at Harvard in 1862. In 1865 he began to contribute reviews and short stories to American journals. In 1875, after two prior visits to Europe, he settled for a year in Paris, where he met Flaubert, Turgenev and other literary figures. However, the next year he moved to London, where he became so popular in society that in the winter of 1878-9 he confessed to accepting 107 invitations. In 1898 he left London and went to live at Lamb House, Rye, Sussex. Henry James became a naturalized citizen in 1915, was awarded the Order of Merit and died in 1916.

In addition to many short stories, plays, books of criticism, autobiography and travel, he wrote some twenty novels, the first published being Roderick Hudson (1875). They include The Europeans, Washington Square, The Portrait of a Lady, The Bostonians, The Princess Casamassima, The Tragic Muse, The Spoils of Poynton, The Awkward Age, The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
Henry James's first full-length novel (1875) features a classic Jamesian situation, an entertaining, witty and tortuous examination of romantic feelings that are caught up in a frenzy of youthful impetuousness, ambition and artistic genius, complicated by the social expectations of others and the unfathomable workings of the female mind. If it isn't entirely successful on those terms, lacking the kind of precision that James would become better known for in later novels, there is however an interesting subtext to the story where James considers that other topic of interest to him regarding notions of identity from a European and an American perspective and whether there is any compatibility between them.

Such matters are considered not so much through the titular character as through the figure of Rowland Mallet, a young man from New England, with no fixed place in the world, no great ambitions, no woman or love in his life and no genius of his own. As a buyer and importer of European art however, he can however recognise genius in others and is particularly taken by an exquisite piece of sculpture by a young local man, Roderick Hudson. Believing that he can do something to encourage such talent, he proposes taking the young inexperienced man on an extended trip to Rome, taking him away from his law studies and the quiet dullness of New England life and hopefully through his patronage, see his ability mature towards delivering the masterpieces he is confident lie within.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Molly Marsden on 6 April 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
James' second novel sets its American protagonists in Europe, destination for the fashionable rich of the late nineteenth century holidaying among the architectural and artistic gems of the Old World, a theme to be repeated in several later novels including The Portrait of a Lady. Compared with that masterpiece, the novel is a little slow to develop, although it makes up for this in depth and from Chapter eight when arrival of the capricious and alluring Christina Light fires the tension which permeates the rest of the narrative.

Roderick Hudson, an attractive young sculptor from a modest background in the Eastern United States, impresses Rowland Mallet with a particularly brilliant figure of a youth drinking from a gourd. Mallet, a rich amateur connoisseur of the arts and an inveterate sojourner in Europe, senses a bright future for the young man and persuades Hudson to accompany him to Rome in order to settle down and draw inspiration from the classics.

After a promising start however, Hudson's loss of motivation and associated moral decline leads mentor and protégée into mutual conflict, exacerbated by Mallet's disgust for Hudson's cavalier treatment of his fiancée Mary Garland having fallen under the spell of Christina Light. Mallet, himself in love with Mary, is the personification of generosity, and his efforts to rekindle his protégée's talent cause us to wonder at his patience in the face of the churlish treatment he receives from the young sculptor. The tragedy is that the meteoric Hudson isn't by any means all bad, for as well as lack of moral fibre and lapses into bad temper he has charm and sensibility.
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By amazon31 on 3 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An underrated book as not the easiest book to read, but worth the effort.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By tiddioggie on 15 Feb. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read other novels by this author and can't wait to read this one. It will make a good read on holiday.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 12 reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
It's Funny That I'm the First... 4 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I wonder why the discrimination (is it ignorance?) exists regarding James's first great work, "Roderick Hudson." Yes, it is early James, and yes, snobs, it is very "readable." It's a page turner, the sentences are short, and the clauses only interfere in the early chapters, as James revised this earliest work with woefully-advised insertions of his later style. Once you get past these early chapters, however, you will be carried along - there are a few laughs as colorless Rowland Mallet tries to rein in the wild, sensitive Roderick.
Much of the action takes place in Italy - and you get to meet the delicious Princess Casamassima (at this point, Judith Light), to boot.
A real winner - for me, second only to "Portrait of a Lady"---
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The Marble Faun Authenticated ... 5 Aug. 2010
By Giordano Bruno - Published on
Format: Paperback
... or the apotheosis of the American Romance! "Roderick Hudson" was Henry James's second published full-length novel and his last, I would say, in the shared literary idiom of his 19th predecessors. His final tribute, if you will, to the 'Gothic' romances of the Brontes and above all of Nathaniel Hawthorne. I don't believe many critics have linked "Roderick Hudson" to Hawthorne's "The Marble Faun", but the linkage is tight, even if James didn't intend any connection. I would include Herman Melville's grand dismal romance "Pierre" in the linkage, except that I'm doubtful James ever knew of it. Even though most of the narrative takes place in Roma, "Roderick Hudson" is a New England novel at heart.

Published in serial in 1875, "Roderick Hudson" was not received with any great plaudits, and it hasn't been treated with the most ample respect by later literary critics. It's unquestionably true that James 'survived' -- luckily for us -- to write a dozen better novels than this one, beginning with his next, "The American". And yet "Roderick Hudson" is a very fine piece of writing! If James's next ten novels had been just as good but no better, he would still rank as one of the masters of the genre. What falls short for this reader in "Roderick Hudson" might ironically be exactly what could make it most enjoyable for other readers; it's a tale of drastic Passion, in which the characters are Larger Than Life. The excitement I find in reading James's more mature novels is that the characters are never dramatically exaggerated. They may be exceptional, but only in a manner well grounded in their ordinariness. The dramatis personae of "Roderick Hudson" are as sculptural as the intertwined and tormented figures of the Laocoön. The story portrays an anguishing Love Quadrangle:

Roderick is a young self-taught sculptor of Genius ... the most meteoric genius-to-be of the Age, and the most insufferable narcissist ever bent on self-destruction.

Christina Light is 'the most beautiful woman in Europe', raised by her odious mother to become literally a Princess. And a 'princess' she is, in the current derogatory American sense of the title! I might wonder if James's earliest readers found her credible, but I have no doubt that readers today will know what to expect of her. She is the Britney Spears or Sharon Stone of her epoch. She will reappear, by the way, as a character in a later James novel, chastened by experience but no less destructively alluring. Roderick of course is infatuated with her to the point of obsession.

Mary Garland is the New England girl par excellence, the finely spirited and spiritually fine abandoned fiancée, whom the unworthy consider 'plain' but the worthy recognize instinctively as 'handsome'. Our Principal Character is one of the worthy.

That Principal Character is Rowland Mallet, a wealthy American with no calling of his own except to be reliable and generous. His spontaneous recognition of Roderick's 'genius', and his decision to support Roderick's development by transporting him to Europe and subsidizing him there, is the launching point of the novel. Rowland is not a first-person narrator but nonetheless the focal lens of the narrative and the catalyst of most events. He is of course hopelessly in love with Mary Garland but incapable of self-interested disloyalty to his protegé. Almost colorless, he is nonetheless "the most interesting man in the world" in any interpretation of this novel.

Henry James wrote "Roderick Hudson" under the spell of Italy, upon his first visit there, and the descriptive settings in Roma and Firenze are spellbinding. The whole story is operatic in its emotive lushness; stripped of its rich vocabulary and nuances of description, it could easily be rewritten as a Danielle Steele tear-jerker. I don't mean that as dispraise, but rather as the highest praise, that James could take such an 'excessive' drama and write such subtle psychological insights into it.

This novel is included in the Library of America volume "Henry james: Novels 1871-1880" , along with 'Watch and Ward', 'Confidence', 'The American', and 'The Europeans'. I've already reviewed the last two. Some readers/reviewers have mistakenly suggested that Henry James is 'difficult' dry intellectual fare. I hope to persuade "you" of the contrary; James is juicy fun to read.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
He cannot endure the tea-party people; they bore him to death 26 Oct. 2010
By H. Schneider - Published on
Format: Paperback
Our title hero is a young artist from Massachusetts. He can't stand a life in provincial backwaters. The headline is a neighbor's description of his temperament. Lucky for him, he finds a way out, in the form of his own Professor Higgins.

Young Henry James was obviously fascinated with the Pygmalion theme. His first novel, Watch and Ward, later disowned by the master himself, was about a rich man who `adopts' a young girl and has her educated with the plan to make her his wife.
This second novel, published in 1875 and later called the first, has a wealthy man (who says he can not paint pictures, but he can buy them) decide to have his own personal artist by sponsoring the talented young sculptor. Alas, the project runs out of hand.
A key question in any similar situation of patronage is: how much good behavior can legitimately be demanded? What degree of controlling rights has the sponsor acquired in the process?

Roderick Hudson is that talented young sculptor, who doesn't quite know his dimensions and potential and who lives with his widowed mother in limited conditions in MA, only half-heartedly pretending to be trying to acquire an honest profession in a law firm. He is a bit of an empty-headed chatterbox. He also turns out to be an egomaniac.
He meets the rich idle young man, Rowland Mallet, who begins to think of him as a possible target for his charity urges. He gets the offer of going to Rome for training and artistic growth and getting paid in advance for a half dozen of his future works. This is essentially a stipend on a private basis, given unsolicited and in a rush.

It turns out that the sponsor, Rowland, is more in the center of attention than the title hero. From the start on, the narrator tells us more on Rowland than on Roderick. What we learn of Roderick is with Rowland, as if through his eyes, even if not narrated by him. (By the way, the similarity of the names is irritating.)
We learn that Rowland is an awkward mixture of strong moral impulse and restless aesthetic curiosity. He has an incorruptible and incorrigible modesty. He has a constitutional tendency towards magnanimous interpretations. And he is prone to meddling.
While on the ship to Europe Rowland has a shock: he learns that Roderick just got engaged to the woman whom Rowland had just started to think about for himself. Until the last line of the book, Rowland dreams of turning the table.
Roderick continues to exasperate. He is frivolous, a womanizer and he gambles. He has megalomaniac ideas about his talent and then suffers from working blocks. The story turns into a very entertaining and lively novel. It belongs into the category of novels where a plot summary can de-motivate. It sounds too much like contemporary pulp. But the beauty here lies in the details, in the texture, in the observations and characterizations.

James wrote it while living in Italy. Glimpses of the localities are part of the charm of the book. Foreigners are part of the localities. Most of the personnel of the story are American or other non-Italian. We get to meet the gorgeous but difficult Christina Light, later better known as Princess Casamassima, the heroine of a later novel. I am planning to read James in chronological sequence, but Christina might very well talk me into jumping ahead.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Superb start to the career of the Master 2 May 2013
By Amazon-Kunde - Published on
Format: Paperback
I recently finished "Roderick Hudson" by Henry James--the central character from whose perspective the novel is told, Rowland Mallet, is a weak, shy character, in stark contrast to the hero of the title, the brilliant but self-destructive sculptor-genius Roderick Hudson. Oddly enough, and interestingly, it is the boringness and suppressed emotionality of Rowland which makes this book work. Perhaps because it highlights the difference to Roderick's creative Tsunami. When the Roderick's storm, partly due to the unhappy encounter with a beautiful dame, peters out, Rowland does not rise to the challenge but he suppresses his feelings for another woman even more decidedly. He's kind of an American anti-hero but because every man, even today, can understand how circumstances can conspire to paralyse one, he remains sympathetic albeit sad and we're sorry for him. -- [Do yourself a favor and do NOT read the 1878 version but the edited version from 1907: James edited this substantially and some publishers see fit to suppress it (Penguin seems to be one) with arguments that seem flimsy to me. I read both and the 1907 version is superb and superior.]
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Early James, Italy and the American 26 Jan. 2008
By Chaya - Published on
Format: Paperback
Henry James brings Americans to Italy - and the Americans act American. There are a few stumbles in this book that don't detract from the story nor from Jame's voice. The semi-sophisticated American brings a hopeful artist, also American, to beautiful Italy, where the artist, instead of acting like a European artist, acts like a spoiled child.

Roderick displays all that Europeans hate and love about Americans. And he gets away with it. It is only when his Mother and fiance arrive that the story turns from a soap opera into a tragedy.

I happen to love Jame's later works and found this story exhibiting all the promise of his later books.
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