What Maisie Knew

What Maisie Knew

Book - 2010 | New ed.
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What Maisie Knew is Henry James's damning portrait of adultery, jealousy and possession on the decadent fringe of English upper-class society. This Penguin Classics edition is edited with an introduction and notes by Christopher Ricks.

After her parents' bitter divorce, young Maisie Farange finds herself turned into a 'little feathered shuttlecock' to be swatted back and forth by her selfish mother, Ida, and her vain father, Beale, who value her only as a means of provoking one another. When both take lovers and remarry, Maisie - solitary, observant and wise beyond her years - is drawn into an entangled adult world of intrigue and sexual betrayal, until she is at last able to cooperate in choosing her own future. As time conquers innocence, Henry James masterfully portrays Maisie's consciousness developing from simple childlike 'wonder' to a rich, morally-scrupulous adult mind.

This edition of What Maisie Knew includes a chronology, suggested further reading, three contemporary reviews, Henry James's own commentaries on the work, and an introduction that examines how children figured in his predecessors' novels, and how war is waged between the sexes in What Maisie Knew .

Henry James (1843-1916) son of a prominent theologian, and brother to the philosopher William James, was one of the most celebrated novelists of the fin-de-si#65533;cle . In addition to many short stories, plays, books of criticism, biography and autobiography, and much travel writing, he wrote some twenty novels.
His novella 'Daisy Miller' (1878) established him as a literary figure on both sides of the Atlantic, and his other novels in Penguin Classics include Washington Square (1880), The Portrait of a Lady (1881), The Awkward Age (1899), The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903) and The Golden Bowl (1904)

If you enjoyed What Maisie Knew , you might like Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway , also available in Penguin Classics.

'Embodies everything that James excelled at in fiction'
Paul Theroux

Publisher: London : Penguin Books, 2010.
Edition: New ed.
ISBN: 9780141441375
Branch Call Number: JAMES
Characteristics: xxxvii, 309 p. ; 20 cm.
Additional Contributors: Ricks, Christopher 1933-


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Sep 12, 2014

"This would make a great movie!" That's a thought that no reader of Henry James has ever had. Yet somehow they've made a number of movies of his books, including a few of his most difficult, like "The Golden Bowl" and "What Maisie Knew." The seemingly straightforward story of a young girl left adrift after her parents' acrimonious divorce, this is one of James's greatest excursions into the inner life and consciousness of a character and certainly one of the first novel's to try and understand and child's point of view. Dense, complex, and cerebral, it's never an easy read, but it is a rewarding one. Looking for an easier entry into James's formidable oeuvre? Try "Daisy Miller," "Washington Square," or "The Turn of the Screw."

Apr 15, 2014

A Little Girl used as a Bargaining Chip by her Parents, finds people who actually love her. She LOVES these two people and the life she has with them. Will this Little Girl be allowed to BE a Little Girl or a Token/Prize that the Parents/Court have made her out to be?

jmorris11 Jun 04, 2013

I found the book a little difficult to read since there was more description than actual dialogue or plot.

Aug 20, 2011

This book was on a list of Penelope Lively’s (Moon Tiger) favorites, but there’s probably a reason as to why this is not a Henry James best-known. I could not get beyond the second chapter. Henry James got away with writing the view point of a young woman in several of his more famous books, but a viewpoint of a child…not so much. Obtuse, flowery sentences like “she saw more and more; she saw too much” are all over the place. He never breaks out into a story-telling narrative, as he does so successfully in his other books. Nevertheless, it is an unusual topic for a writer of the time…the viewpoint of a young child amid divorce. If you’ve gone beyond the second chapter and enjoyed the book, please write a counter review; I would love to know that I gave up too early.

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