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Old 01-17-2008, 09:57 PM   #1
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James, Henry: The Ivory Tower, v.1, 18 Jan 2008.

An unfinished novel by Henry James. I have added his working notes, so that one can see how his mind was working. For me, the notes are interesting and show the mind of a great writer at work.

The novel was written in 1914, but not published until 1917, after James’s death. Here’s what Wikipedia says:

The Ivory Tower is an unfinished novel by Henry James, posthumously published in 1917. The novel is a brooding story of Gilded Age America. It centers on the riches earned by a pair of dying millionaires and ex-partners, Abel Gaw and Frank Betterman, and their possibly corrupting effect on the people around them. … James clearly meant this novel as an attack on the gigantic wealth of the Gilded Age plutocrats. He presents Abel Gaw with almost Gothic intensity as a predatory financier, "with his beak, which had pecked so many hearts out, visibly sharper than ever." James shows Betterman, as his name suggests, in a slightly more favorable light if only because he has repented somewhat for his past financial sins.
The younger people are just as reprehensible, with the possible exceptions of Rosanna and Gray. "We're all unspeakably corrupt," says Vint, and the reader won't have much trouble agreeing. Vint and his lover Cissy Foy seem much like Amerigo and Charlotte in The Golden Bowl in their love of wealth and pleasure.
According to James' notes Fielder eventually comes to recognize "the black and merciless things that are behind the great possessions" and how those possessions have been "so dishonored and stained and blackened at their very roots, that it seems...they carry their curse with them." Which is probably as definite a statement of the novel's import as can be found.
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