Malkin Lecture: Henry James: The Houses of the Fiction

Henry James famously compared The Portrait of a Lady (1881) to an enormous, million-windowed house, a building that opened on to any number of possible scenes. But what about the actual houses that figured in his work—the places where he wrote or the ones he took as models in which he set his characters that so compellingly captured the Gilded Age?  This lecture examines three different houses that figure in James’s novel: Hardwick, the country house in the south of England on which he based Gardencourt, in which the novel begins; the Florentine villa that served as the model for the house of the novel’s villain, Gilbert Osmond; and James’s own Lamb House, on the English coast, where he revised the novel in the early years of the 20th century.

Michael Gorra is the Mary Augusta Jordan Professor of English at Smith College, where he has taught since 1985, and the author of Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of An American Masterpiece (2012), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography. Earlier books include The Bells in Their Silence: Travels through Germany (2004); After Empire: Scott, Naipaul, Rushdie (1997); and The English Novel at Mid-Century (1990). He has received a Guggenheim fellowship, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a National Book Critics Circle award. Gorra’s essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Review of Books, the TLS, The Atlantic, and The New York Times Book Review, among others. His current work in progress is William Faulkner’s Civil War.

Image: Henry James, by John Singer Sargent; courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

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Thursday, October 5

at 6:30pm

Veterans Room
Tickets: $15 General Admission and Armory Friend ($100) members
$12 Senior/Student
$10 Armory Supporter ($250) members and above

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