Colm Toibin, 2004
Toibin shows us how James drew upon his experiences and the people he knew, how he worked those experiences over, gave them body, and created his stories. This ground has been covered before, but perhaps not so intimately as it is here.
James was close to three women in particular, two of whom ultimately he let down when they most needed his friendship. Sadly, he could let no one come too near his core nor demand too much of his affections. Toibin suggests that James, attempting to deal with his guilt, molded some of his most famous heroines in these women's images, as tributes to their memory.
I really love this work, though it can be a slow read with little plot. I suggest reading this work in tandem (over two months...or three) with James's fiction—especially one or both of the books recommended here. The Turn of the Screw is also wonderful.
Be sure to see our Reading Guide for The Master.
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