The Bookish Pleasures of a Henry James Yearbook – The New Yorker

In 1911, a Boston publisher called Gorham Press brought out a small scarlet-bound book with gilt-edged pages. The title was written in gold lettering on the cover: “The Henry James Year Book.” Inside were quotations from James’s novels, stories, and essays, one for every day of the year, “selected and arranged” by Evelyn Garnaut Smalley. Smalley had arranged for the work’s publication, too: Gorham was a vanity press avant la lettre. She was a family friend of James’s, as well as a devotee of his work. Her father, a prominent American journalist living in London, had introduced the newly expatriated James to English society some four decades earlier, when Smalley was a child.

The “Year Book” was not a commercial success, and though two other presses have reissued the work since–one, in England, in 1912, and another, in Pennsylvania, in 1970–it has largely escaped the notice of even the most enthusiastic James readers and scholars. (It isn’t, for instance, mentioned in Leon Edel’s five-volume biography of James–and neither is Smalley, though her father makes several appearances.) But earlier this year, the centenary of James’s death, the University of Chicago Press brought out a new edition of the “Year Book,” with a foreword from Michael Gorra, a professor of English at Smith College and the author of “Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece.” The work also has a new title: “The Daily Henry James: A Year of Quotes from the Work of the Master.”

This is a great little book for Henry James fans. I got it a few weeks ago, and I’ve been leafing through it, finding some wonderful quotes and paragraphs. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)

Source: The Bookish Pleasures of a Henry James Yearbook – The New Yorker

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