Publisher description for Novels, 1896-1899 / Henry James.

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This fourth volume in the Library of America edition of the complete novels of Henry James contains the four novels he wrote after a failed attempt to forge a career as a playwright on the London stage. Together they mark the beginning of the brilliant period in the novelist's career known as the late phase.

The Other House (1896) shows James incorporating an act of murder into the heart of his narrative. Long neglected, the novel is a fascinating glimpse into a very different side of Henry James, as he explores the violent implications of jealousy and possessiveness. In The Spoils of Poynton (1897), the artworks conserved in the manor house of the title become the object of a protracted power struggle between the mother and the fiancée of the heir to the house. The struggle, in this most tightly constructed of James's late novels, hinges ultimately on the sensitivities of a third woman.

What Maisie Knew (1897) recounts the aftermath of a divorce through the eyes of the couple's daughter. James adopts what he described as "the consciousness, the dim, sweet, scared, wondering, clinging perception of the child." Similarly experimental, The Awkward Age (1899) maps the interrelations of a large cast of characters, a group of old friends and their children, almost entirely through dialogue. The ambiguity of childhood innocence is central to both of these novels.

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