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Formato: Tapa blanda
When Isabel Archer, a bright and independent young American, makes her first trip to Europe in the company of her aunt, Mrs. Touchett, who lives outside of London in a 400-year-old estate, she discovers a totally different world, one which does not encourage her independent thinking or behavior and which is governed by rigid social codes. This contrast between American and European values, vividly dramatized here, is a consistent theme in James's novels, one based on his own experiences living in the US and England. In prose that is filled with rich observations about places, customs, and attitudes, James portrays Isabel's European coming-of-age, as she discovers that she must curb her intellect and independence if she is to fit into the social scheme in which she now finds herself.
Isabel Archer, one of James's most fully drawn characters, has postponed a marriage in America for a year of travel abroad, only to discover upon her precipitate and ill-considered marriage to an American living in Florence, that it is her need to be independent that makes her marriage a disaster. Gilbert Osmond, an American art collector living in Florence, marries Isabel for the fortune she has inherited from her uncle, treating her like an object d'art which he expects to remain "on the shelf." Madame Serena Merle, his long-time lover, is, like Osmond, an American whose venality and lack of scruples have been encouraged, if not developed, by the European milieu in which they live.
James packs more information into one paragraph than many writers do in an entire chapter. Distanced and formal, he presents psychologically realistic characters whose behavior is a direct outgrowth of their upbringing, with their conflicts resulting from the differences between their expectations and the reality of their changed settings. The subordinate characters, Ralph Touchett, Pansy Osmond, her suitor Edward Rosier, American journalist Henrietta Stackpole, Isabel's former suitor Caspar Stackpole, and Lord Warburton, whose love of Isabel leads him to court Pansy, are as fascinating psychologically and as much a product of their own upbringing as is Isabel.
As the setting moves from America to England, Paris, Florence, and Rome, James develops his themes, and as Isabel's life becomes more complex, her increasingly difficult and emotionally affecting choices about her life make her increasingly fascinating to the reader. James's trenchant observations about the relationship between individuals and society and about the effects of one's setting on one's behavior are enhanced by the elegance and density of his prose, making this a novel one must read slowly--and savor. Mary Whipple
54 de 57 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
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Formato: Libro de bolsillo
Henry James has truly outdone himself with this book. While it is no longer my favorite James' novel, I still think it among the best novels written in the English language. The character of Isabel Archer is an indelible part of literature. The story begins with an American woman, left parentless and penniless, being discovered by an expatriate Aunt. The Aunt convinces her to go England with her so that she might meet her cousin, Ralph. Isabel eagerly agrees. She is idealistic and has always wanted to see Europe. Her aunt agrees to pay for the expenditures. Once there, Isabel falls in love with their house, Gardencourt, and grows to enjoy her frail, sweet, ironic, and funny cousin. Before Isabel knows it, she has become ensnared in a one-sided love affair with a handsome English nobleman, Lord Warburton, little knowing what to do. Despite the urgings of her aunt, Isabel rejects his proposal in the desire to wait for something better. Soon, her elderly uncle dies, but not before she charms him with her intelligence and subtle beauty. Ralph insists that his father leave Isabel a substantial fortune, so that she might be able to live as she wishes. When the uncle dies, Isabel is left with 70,000 pounds, or about 200,000 dollars. From here is where the true story begins. I will not reveal more of the plot, which unwinds slowly and with assurance. James, being a master of prose, knows how to manipulate a sentence in a multitude of ways. His lilting, ironic, verbose writing style lends class and charm to Isabel's ultimately tragic tale. Some modern readers aren't able to handle James' subtle style. Unfortunately, many of us have had to fight the effects of shortened attention spans. Reading a slow-paced and brilliantly conceived tale like this will surely help cure short attention spans. Once you begin the story, it grows on you and affects you greatly. James is difficult getting used to, but he grabs you with his excellent descriptions of passionate people. Finally, the brilliance of this book lies in its tragedy. Even though many readers can predict early on where Isabel's confidence and naivete will lead her, James makes the journey bumpy and fascinating. He also slowly injects the story with dread, as we begin to sense the true malevolence of Madame Merle's and Osmond's vicious plans. Their acts are pure Machiavellian glee. Only in the final third of the book does it become clear of the true nature of the scheming M. Merle's plans. James also leaves several important plot points until near the end of the novel. All of this leads to a long, engrossing, and sad story of a young woman "affronting her destiny", as James puts it. Rarely has so romantic or so devastating a book been written. The ending is the final kicker. Unlike the happy ending we suspect, James leaves readers with open interpretations and many possible questions regarding Isabel's TRUE feelings about men. It also most vividly presents her sexual repression and fear that dominate the entire book. James knew the reserves of the time dictated that such topics not be discussed, and he cleverly uses this theme discreetly. However, he also uses it as a sort of indictment on the times, with their lack of passion and sensuality. Many readers expect a conclusion to the story, but, as with real life, stories simply go on. The ending is perhaps the most modern thing about the book. It also makes certain readers know that Isabel's life will never be one of happiness. This is an exquisitely haunting masterpiece.