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What Maisie Knew (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – 5 Oct 2000
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"James' finest working of his preoccupation with the theme of innocence corrupted... James is the master of making what is not said the most important thing on the page" (Kate Atkinson)
"A brilliant social comedy seen wholly from a child’s point of view, this is a dazzling technical feat that, as always with James, deepens as it develops ― like the life of the child herself. An exhilarating prelude to the great novels of his famous late phase" (Alan Hollinghurst New York Times)
"Contains some of his best comedy and some of his most melancholy insights...embodies everything that James excelled at in fiction" (Paul Theroux)
"Henry James is as solitary in the history of the novel as Shakespeare is in the history of poetry" (Graham Greene)
"Perfect" (F. R. Leavis) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
'A very modern story about aimless lives and messy marriages' Paul Theroux --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
This short novel is incredibly modern in its subject-matter: a little girl, fruit of a loveless marriage who is neglected by both her parents. Maisie is a very attrattive child to the reader: never precocious or irritating. James pulls off the incredible feat of an unmarried, middle-aged man writing from a child's prespective, and his writing is both believable and moving.
Read it and be prepared to have your heart broken!
F. R. Leavis in his critical work "The Great Tradition" makes an interesting observation about this:
" . . . the consummately 'done' theme of "What Masie Knew" is the incorruptible innocence of Masie; innocence that not merely preserves itself in what might have seemed irresistibly corrupting circumstances, but can even generate decency out of the egotistic squalors of adult personal relations."
Looked at in this way, What Masie Knew has a reasonably positive message. Masie has shown herself to be a survivor and the feeling I get is that she will continue so.
"What Maisie Knew" is the story of a little girl through whose eyes we watch, with sadness, wry smiles and occasional horror and trepidation, the machinations of the various adults around her, who are embroiled in her parents' epic love battles, deconstructed so that its component parts become essentially puppets in a punch and judy show, watched with intelligence and mystery by the child. The moments of real love or kindness are so rare as to be extremely touching: it's above all a tragicomedy, a satire.
The virtuoso quality of his prose thrills with the vibrato of his grasp on the myriad ways people find to communicate whatever they mean to say. In exquisite, hyper-real language he forces you again and again to look - and you see - oh, too much. Everything hidden and visible, everything spoken and unspoken. Gauzy veils of meaning, subtext and intent, corruption and beauty, reveal themselves woozily under his masterful touch, at every turn, in each exquisitely painted, impressionistic scene. They are loaded, nonetheless, with sharp little stings for the unwary (who might believe they're along merely for an elegantly pretty ride in a period drama).
That can make for an intense, almost physical reading experience that sometimes leaves me groping my way through the story, enjoying the experience while simultaneously somewhat exhausted by the effort of keeping up with it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Arrived 2 days early which was great as my son needed it for a lesson on the day it was supposed to arrive.Published 9 months ago by B. Robinson
It is some years since I have read any of Henry James' work, so it took me sometime to re-engage with his rhythm of writing. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Dotty