Synopses & Reviews
What Maisie Knew
(1897) represents one of James's finest reflections on the rites of passage from wonder to knowledge, and the question of their finality. The child of violently divorced parents, Maisie Farange opens her eyes on a distinctly modern world. Mothers and fathers keep changing their partners and names, while she herself becomes the pretext for all sorts of adult sexual intrigue.
In this classic tale of the death of childhood, there is a savage comedy that owes much to Dickens. But for his portrayal of the child's capacity for intelligent `wonder', James summons all the subtlety he devotes elsewhere to his most celebrated adult protagonists. Neglected and exploited by everyone around her, Maisie inspires James to dwell with extraordinary acuteness on the things that may pass between adult and child. In addition to a new introduction, this edition of the novel offers particularly detailed notes, bibliography, and a list of variant readings.
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Henry James (1843 - 1916) was one of the leaders in the school of realism in fiction. He is known for his series of novels in which he portrayed the encounter of America with Europe. James is considered to be the master of the novel and novella. James wrote about personal relationships and the power within these relationships. James explored consciousness and perception from the point of view of a character within a tale. In What Maisie Knew the divorced parents of a perceptive twelve-year-old girl subsequently remarry, and she continues to spend six months of the year with each family. She observes the same adulterous affairs in her stepmother and stepfather as she saw in her parents; but this knowledge matures rather than corrupts her.
About the Author
Adrian Poole is Reader in English and Comparative Literature at Trinity College, Cambridge. He is co-editor of the forthcoming Oxford Book of Classical Verse in Translation, and he is the editor of The Aspern Papers and Other Stories in World's Classics.