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The Ambassadors (1903)

by Henry James

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,292352,759 (3.7)207
This complex tale of self-discovery -- considered by the author to be his best work -- traces the path of an aging idealist, Lambert Strether. Arriving in Paris with the intention of persuading his young charge to abandon an obsession with a French woman and return home, Strether reaches unexpected conclusions.… (more)



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English (34)  Italian (1)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
There are long stretches of crushing dullness, but the amount of detail, the sense James has for the most subtle feelings/moods/"situations"/"types" are breathtaking. Something about the book is monstrous.
1 vote slplst | Jun 23, 2019 |
Read a James omnibus and that was enough.
  librisissimo | Feb 9, 2019 |
Mediocre. ( )
  DanielSTJ | Dec 18, 2018 |
I was pointed towards Henry James by those who had read my own interminable contributions to a half-forgotten creative writing collaboration on LibraryThing, so I feel obliged to let it be known that I consider my prose, however long-winded and polysyllabic, as nevertheless infinitely more comprehensible than James's experiments in syntax so convoluted that it might be called non-Euclidean, and managing to be simultaneously over- and under-punctuated.

I find it hard to understand or articulate why I enjoyed reading this book, but I did. Two particular moments stand out, of a kind of euphoria. One, inevitably, was when I finally reached the climax (on page 349) and the rapidly following conclusion (on page 393). The other, earlier, was when I realized, about halfway through the book, that my sense of bafflement as a reader, floundering about in James's labyrinthine sentences, precisely mirrored that of the narrator and focalizer, Lambert Strether, completely befogged among the sophisticated young men of the world and femmes du monde who dance arabesques around him as he bumbles stolidly around Paris, ruminating obsessively as he goes. Was this, then, deliberate on the part of the author? None of his characters ever seems to say anything directly, but utters little allusions to things unsaid or half-said, skirting delicately around all actual topics of conversation, just as the author frequently steps delicately around the events of the plot, passing on only Strether's subsequent contemplations of them. Confronted with the most opaque prose I have ever encountered, I eventually gave up trying to parse James's sentences, decode his arcane idioms, or unpack the extended metaphors which seemed to go underground like twining roots and emerge unexpectedly some paragraphs later. I resorted to a kind of impressionistic reading in which I let words and paragraphs wash over me, leaving a blurred image of a narrative like a smudged painting. A happy decision: since finishing the book, I have discovered that James is, indeed, regarded as an Impressionist writer; so trying to read his prose like that of a conventional novel is like trying to find the outlines of objects in a pointillist landscape.

MB 22-i-2018 ( )
1 vote MyopicBookworm | Jan 22, 2018 |
Found this one quite dull, probably not the best Summer read for me. ( )
  brakketh | Jan 17, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (48 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Henry Jamesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Edel, LeonEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Levin, HarryEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Poole, AdrianEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stallman, R.W.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Strether's first question, when he reached the hotel, was about his friend; yet on his learning that Waymarsh was apparently not to arrive till evening he was not wholly disconcerted.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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Urban Romantics

An edition of this book was published by Urban Romantics.

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