Henry James

Henry James ( born April 15, 1843 in New York; † February 28, 1916 in Chelsea, United Kingdom) was an American writer. He was the younger brother of the philosopher William James.


Henry James grew up in a wealthy family. His father, Henry James Sr., was one of the most respected intellectuals, were among his friends and acquaintances Thoreau, Emerson and Hawthorne. From an early age James became familiar with the classics of British, American, French and German literature. In his youth, Henry Jr. traveled to Europe and studied in New York, London, Paris, Bologna, Bonn and Geneva. At the age of 19 he began studying law at the Harvard Law School, but soon realized that it was the literature in detail.

As a 20 -year-old James began to write contributions for American magazines. At the age of 21, he published his first short story, A Tragedy of Errors. 1866-1869 and 1871-1872 he was a staff member of the magazine The Atlantic Monthly and the Nation newspaper. His first novel, Watch and Ward, appeared in 1871 as a serial story in the Atlantic Monthly. James wrote on his journey through Venice and Paris and told her in the story of a bachelor who adopts a twelve year old and later will not even marry.

After living for a time in Paris, and had written several articles for the New York Tribune from there, he finally settled in England in 1875 and 1915, a British citizen. The shock of the beginning of the First World War had James prompted, to protest against, among others non-interference policy of the United States. In England, he wrote among other things for The Yellow Book. During his first years in Europe James portrayed mainly the lives of Americans in foreign countries, particularly in Europe. In 1905, he visited for the first time in 25 years back his homeland and wrote Jolly Corner, which is based on his observations in and around New York and the nightmarish story of a man told, is haunted by his doppelganger.

Between 1906 and 1910 he revised several tales and stories for the " New York Edition" of his collected works, published at Charles Scribner 's Son, 1911. In the years 1913-1914 the first two volumes of his autobiography, A Small Boy and Others and Notes of a Son and Brother appeared. The third volume was published posthumously in 1917. Henry James died on 28 February 1916 at the age of 72 years after he had recently suffered a heart attack.

Literary creation

In James' multifaceted work Europe, the antagonism between the "Old World " plays with its long cultural tradition, and the naivety of the "New World" America is an important, perhaps even central role. Another characteristic of his work are the psychologically complex and carefully drawn female characters, such as in Portrait of a Lady.

As a special role models he called Honoré de Balzac and George Eliot; Balzac he once said that he had learned from this more about writing than anyone else Probably the most famous quote about his own writing comes from the art of poetry from 1885:

" A novel is in its broadest sense a personal, a direct impression of life: that, to begin with, Constitutes its value, Which is Greater or less accor ding to the intensity of the impression. "

The extraordinary detail of the inner life of his characters can appear as a modern writer James. He is considered a master of indirect characterization, and was among other things a model for the stream of consciousness style ( " stream of consciousness "); particularly well-known examples of this technique can be found in James Joyce's Ulysses and Manhattan Transfer by John Dos Passos.

While Henry James was almost a cult author in the English-speaking world, he is pushed into the background in the German language area. A smaller James Renaissance was not only caused by various publishing activities ( Manesseplatz, Aufbau Verlag, etc.), but also by the many literary adaptations.


Overall, James published 20 novels, 112 short stories, twelve dramas and various travel books and literature reviews. Among his most important publications

  • Watch and Ward, 1871
  • Roderick Hudson, 1875
  • The American, 1875 (Eng. The Americans; social novel)
  • Daisy Miller, 1878
  • The Europeans, 1878 (Eng. The Europeans )
  • Confidence, 1879 (Eng. Trust )
  • The Portrait of a Lady, 1881 (Eng. Portrait of a lady or portrait of a young lady )
  • Washington Square, 1881 (Eng. The Washington Square )
  • The Bostonians, 1886 (German ladies in Boston)
  • The Princess Casamassima, 1886 (Eng. The Princess Casamassima )
  • The Aspern Papers, 1888, (Eng. Aspern estate, also: The Aspern Papers )
  • The reverberator, 1888
  • The Patagonia, 1888, German crossing with lady. A Salon story; edited and translated by Alexander Pechmann. Aufbau Verlag, Berlin, 2013, ISBN 978-3-351-03529-7.

Stories translated into German

  • Benvolio, five stories translated into German by Ingrid Rein, Manesseplatz Verlag, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-7175-2176-1 for the first time.
  • Patina. From the American transfer of Hansi Bochow - Blüthgen, Books on Demand, Norderstedt 2009, ISBN 978-3-8391-0439-2.
  • How it all came five stories for the first time translated into German by Ingrid clean; with an afterword by Angela Schader. Manesseplatz Verlag, Munich / Zurich 2012, ISBN 978-3-7175-2270-6.
  • The ghostly rent (The Ghostly Rental ) (= cabinet of the dreamers. Vol. 41). Translated and with an afterword by Heiko Postma. Jmb -Verlag, Hannover, 2013, ISBN 978-3-944342-18-4.

Films (selection)