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Author, Author by David Lodge
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Author, Author

by David Lodge

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    The Master by Colm Tóibín (panbiot)
    panbiot: un altra biografia romanzata di Henry James
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Because Lodge's writing is rambling I found myself getting distracted and confused about what was happening when. Author, Author is a biography that focuses mainly on Henry James's relationships with Constance Fenimore Woolsen, the granddaughter of James Fenimore Cooper and with fellow author/friend George Du Maurier and the "horrible opening night" of his play "Guy Domville." The best part of the story was Henry's relationship with Constance Fenimore Woolsen (fondly known as Fenimore throughout the book). James struggles to have a relationship with her that is private yet meaningful. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Apr 23, 2013 |
This is probably a better than 3 star book, but it took me a while to get through it. It’s a little too long, and I’ve already read a couple of biographies of James, so I felt like I was covering same ground. Even thought this is fiction it seems to follow facts very closely, and is well written and interesting. ( )
  bongo_x | Apr 6, 2013 |
Dans son dernier roman, Pensées secrètes, l’écrivain Henry James apparaissait en filigrane. Dans celui-ci, il se tient au centre de la scène. L’histoire commence en décembre 1915, alors que Henry James meurt entouré de ses proches et de ses domestiques - puis recule pour lever le rideau sur les années 1880. Apparaissent alors George du Maurier, l’ami cher, artiste et illustrateur de métier et Constance Fenimore Woolson, écrivain américain avec qui James entretient des relations aussi étroites que platoniques. C’est à cette époque que Henry James décide, pour contrer le faible succès public de ses livres, de chercher la fortune et la renommée au théâtre. Il se lance dans l’écriture de pièces tandis que son ami George, dont la vue s’affaiblit, se met, lui, à écrire des romans. Les conséquences pour les deux hommes vont être tout à la fois comiques, tragiques, surprenantes et ironiques : tandis que Trilby , le roman de Georges, devient le best-seller du siècle au grand étonnement de l’auteur lui-même, Henry se voit hué le soir de la première de sa pièce Guy Domville. Grouillant de personnages campés d’un trait vif - certains d’entre eux célèbres, d’autres obscurs - L’auteur ! l’auteur ! offre le fascinant panorama d’une vie littéraire et théâtrale qui présage en bien des points l’actuelle confusion des genres entre l’art, le commerce et la publicité. Avec ce mélange d’humour britannique et de mélancolie douce qui est sa marque de fabrique, David Lodge dépeint surtout, à travers la figure captivante et mystérieuse de Henry James pour qui il éprouve une immense empathie, les obsessions, les espoirs, les rêves, les déceptions et les triomphes de ceux que l’on appelle les gens de plume. L’épigraphe du livre le résume à la perfection : « We work in the dark – we do what we can- we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art. »
  PierreYvesMERCIER | Feb 19, 2012 |
"Author, Author" is a fictionalization of the life of author Henry James, with particular attention to his years as a playwright. The book is well written, and assuming the specific details of his life were actually true (and the Lodge didn’t simply make them up), they flowed well within the narrative and never seemed forced or superfluous.

Unfortunately, I struggled to finish the book. Again, it was well written, and I typically love writings set in the late 19th century, but it failed to capture my full attention. Likely by biggest distraction is that I have never read anything by Henry James. As the book progresses, it become clear that certain events described earlier in the book end up being the plot devices for works he later writes. Since I didn’t know the works, I missed the build-up. As a result, I failed to see the point of the book for about the first half. Now the flipside of that, since I have no knowledge of his works, it was always a surprise to me when one was successful or a failure. It’s like reading about a war and not knowing who’s going to win.

The end of the book picked up, and I found a strong desire to see how it would end. But overall, it was a mediocre experience – possibly better enjoyed by someone with a more refined literary background than my own. ( )
1 vote pbadeer | Feb 1, 2011 |
This book is about Henry James, and like Colm Tóibín's The Master, a key incident is the opening of James' play Guy Domville, where the venerable author was booed by the audience as he took a curtain call. But the wider focus here is James' desire for sales – partly for the cash and partly for the recognition – and his friendship with George Du Maurier, writer of the (contemporary) runaway bestseller Trilby.

Lodge has done plenty of research and makes use of quotes from actual letters and diaries. I think he was imitating James in the broad social sweep of his work – it's a portrait of a group rather than an individual – and also to a certain extent in his style, although this is largely through long sentences.

But – with the exception of the chapter about the ill-fated play, which explains very well how the debacle actually happened – for most of the book I was wondering what the point was.

James comes across as a man prone to embarrassment and awkwardness who finds it difficult to make the emotional commitment, especially to women, that underlies a real connection. But he doesn't make a very human character and I found it hard to care about him. (From what I remember of The Master, which I read 18 months ago, that Henry James is more sympathetic because he is more keenly aware of his failings). ( )
1 vote wandering_star | Jun 22, 2010 |
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Epigraph
'We work in the dark - we do what we can - we give what
we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our
task. The rest is the madness of art.'

     - Henry, James, 'The Middle Years'
Who was to be lucky and who to be rich,
Who'd get to the top of the tree ...

     - Felix Moscheles, In Bohemia with Du Maurier
Dedication
To Danny Moynihan
First words
London, December 1915. In the master bedroom (never was the estate agent's epithet more appropriate) of Flat 21, Carlyle Mansions, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, the distinguished author is dying - slowly, but surely.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143036092, Paperback)

Henry James takes center stage in David Lodge’s brilliant novel of literary ambition, creativity, and rivalry as revealed in James’s public career and private life. Pivoting on the dramatic first night of his play, Guy Domville, and thronged with vividly drawn characters, Author, Author presents a fascinating panorama of literary and theatrical life in late Victorian England. But at its heart is a portrait, rendered with remarkable empathy, of a writer who never achieved popular success in his lifetime nor resolved his sexual identity yet wrote some of the greatest novels in the English language about love.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:41 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The story begins in December 1915, with the dying author, Henry James, surrounded by his relatives and servants, then loops back to the 1880s to chart the course of his middle years, focusing particularly on his friendship with the illustrator George du Maurier and relationship with American writer Constance Fenimore Woolson.… (more)

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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