By Henry James, Jennie A. Kassanoff
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Additional info for Daisy Miller and Washington Square (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
Like Sloper, Townsend subscribes to a rigid logic of quid pro quo. When Catherine pleads with him to stay舒舠Think of what I have done! 舡 (p. 206). Despite the mathematical tidiness of this response, and the geometric precision of Townsend舗s farewell note舒a letter of some 舠five large square pages舡舒Catherine again confronts the shabby remainders of a broken heart. As its title would suggest, geometry is Washington Square舗s mathematical discipline of choice. The story itself takes place on a square, itself the geographic border between Manhattan舗s irregular network of roads snaking across the island舗s southern tip, and its neat grid of avenues and streets that was then beginning to extend northward (see Bell, 舠舖This Exchange of Epigrams,舡舗 p.
53), Daisy is, in Winterbourne舗s eyes, genuinely, epiphenomenally pure. Armed with this conviction, he all but exonerates himself from his own political inaction. Noting that 舠it was on his conscience that he had done her injustice,舡 he mildly confides to his aunt that Daisy 舠would have appreciated one舗s esteem舡 (p. 62). Yet Winterbourne舗s passive retreat from first-person accountability and his withdrawal into the anonymity of the pronoun 舠one舡 speak more loudly than words. Content with the idealized identifications of symbolic citizenship, and repelled by the messy responsibilities of actual intervention, Winterbourne can only acknowledge that he was 舠booked to make a mistake舡 (p.
Young Henry was educated privately in New York, Geneva, Paris, and London; the family lived alternately in Europe and the United States for much of his childhood. He began his literary career writing for magazines. Having dropped out of Harvard Law School to pursue writing, he associated with the literary set in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was a good friend of budding novelist and critic William Dean Howells. In 1864 James舗s first published piece of fiction, the story 舠A Tragedy of Error,舡 appeared in the Continental Monthly.