Dedicated to classics and hits.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Master (2004) by Colm Tóibín


Book Review
The Master (2004)
by Colm Tóibín

   I genuinely I got more out of The Master by listening to the audio book than I would have if I read the book itself.   If ever there was an author who needs a little help to "come alive" for contemporary readers such as myself, it is Henry James, to whom the title refers.  The Master captures a time in James' life, after the failure of his play on the London stage, when he was taking stock in his life, and most of The Master consists of lengthy recollections by James as he intricately examines past episodes in his life.

   Much of what concerns James in his recollections is his obsession with the hidden self and the manner in which his personal reticence, particularly as it relates to his relationship with his deceased sister, Alice, and the novelist Constance Fenimore Woolson, who perhaps killed herself after being abandoned by James in Venice.  James also spends ample time reflecting on the nature of literary fame and fortune- including the opening chapters featuring the failure of his play, and a late encounter with his brother, famous psychologist and scholar William James, where his brother urges him to write a historical drama that "everyone can understand." 

  In the hands of Tóibín, Henry James"comes alive" in a way I had previously thought impossible, and it left me looking forward to revisiting his books on my way back through the canon.  The Master is also the second book, chronologically, on the "core" list.  I fully agree with that decision.   The Master by Colm Tóibín

No comments:

Blog Archive