Henry James: Background information when reading The Empty Family

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Empty Family

Stories

by Colm Toibin

The Empty Family by Colm Toibin
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2011, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2012, 288 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BJ Nathan Hegedus

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Henry James

Print Review

Young Henry JamesHenry James (1843-1916), the prolific American writer of the late 19th/early 20th century, was known to pick up ideas for his stories from dinner party conversations. Colm Tóibín puts this bit of knowledge to use in his short story "Silence", when he has fictional character Lady Gregory share a secret with James as they sit next to each other at a dining table. A source of great influence and inspiration for Tóibín over the years, Tóibín paid homage to James in his well-received novel, The Master, a biographical work of fiction which begins in 1895 when James's hopes of becoming a prominent playwright were dashed by the success of Oscar Wilde.

Born in New York City, Henry James spent forty years living in England. He became a British citizen one year before his death, in protest of America's initial reluctance to enter World War I. His stories often placed American characters in a European setting, interacting with Europeans. These relationships served to contrast the different worlds of old versus new, the outsider gamely navigating a setting starkly unfamiliar to him.

Henry JamesJames's use of character point of view enabled him to delve deeply into a character's intimate thoughts and perceptions. It also allowed for subsequent characters to be introduced in a truthful and recognizable way. Closely associated with the literary realism movement, Henry James adhered to the belief that life should be depicted as it is and not romanticized. He firmly believed that good stories result from a combination of realistic character portrayals and interesting storylines, and that complete freedom in both content and approach is necessary to keep a tale deeply compelling. This innovative and fresh approach to storytelling generated interest in the relatively new art of narrative fiction.

James wrote his first novel at the age of 28 while traveling through Venice and Paris. Extremely prolific, he went on to complete 21 novels, 15 plays and scores of short stories, essays and articles. His work remains an iconic example of how capturing everyday, contemporary life in a non-idealistic way provides for provocative and engaging storytelling.

This article was originally published in February 2011, and has been updated for the January 2012 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Before We Sleep
    Before We Sleep
    by Jeffrey Lent
    Katey Snow, aged seventeen, leaves home one night. "There was a void within her and one that could ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Hermit
    by Thomas Rydahl
    If you can be comfortable with Scandinavian noir played out against the sun-drenched backdrop of ...
  • Book Jacket: The Radium Girls
    The Radium Girls
    by Kate Moore
    In 1915, Austrian-born Sabin von Sochocky developed a luminescent paint that used radium to create a...

Win this book!
Win News of the World

News of the World

A brilliant work of historical fiction that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

Enter

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Weight of Ink
    by Rachel Kadish

    An intellectual, suspenseful, and entertaining page-turner.
    Reader Reviews

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T's S I Numbers

and be entered to win..

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

A richly layered novel of hearts broken seemingly beyond repair and then bound by a stunning act of human devotion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.