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Eugene Pickering   By: (1843-1916)

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Henry James' Eugene Pickering introduces readers to a fascinating array of characters and offers a thought-provoking exploration of societal roles and expectations. Set in the bustling city of Boston, the novel follows the eponymous character, Eugene Pickering, on his journey of self-discovery and the pursuit of his ambitions.

What sets this novel apart is James' expertly crafted character development. Eugene Pickering is a complex figure, torn between his loyalty to his family's traditional values and his own desire for personal achievement. Throughout the narrative, James skillfully delves into Eugene's psyche, showcasing his inner conflict and contrasting it with the expectations placed upon him by his family, friends, and society.

The supporting cast is equally impressive, with each character contributing to the larger themes present in the novel. From Eugene's bold and independent sister, Lina, to his steadfast friend, Mrs. Bounder, James deftly highlights the clash between individual desires and societal pressure. Through their interactions and conversations, a compelling commentary on the limitations imposed by society and the struggles faced by those who aim to break free emerges.

James' attention to detail is evident throughout the novel, from the vivid descriptions of Boston's bustling streets to the authentic dialogue between characters. This combination allows readers to fully immerse themselves in the world of Boston's upper class during the Gilded Age, painting a vivid picture of the customs, fashion, and social dynamics of the time.

While Eugene Pickering is undeniably introspective, it also offers moments of suspense and intrigue. James masterfully intertwines the personal and political, adding a layer of intrigue to the narrative that keeps readers engaged until the very end. The novel skillfully explores themes of ambition, familial duty, and individuality, leaving readers with much to ponder and discuss.

Although the pacing may feel slow at times, those who appreciate nuanced character studies and thoughtful insights into human condition will find Eugene Pickering a worthwhile read. Henry James' mastery of prose and keen observations make this an unforgettable work that continues to resonate long after the final page is turned.

First Page:



It was at Homburg, several years ago, before the gaming had been suppressed. The evening was very warm, and all the world was gathered on the terrace of the Kursaal and the esplanade below it to listen to the excellent orchestra; or half the world, rather, for the crowd was equally dense in the gaming rooms around the tables. Everywhere the crowd was great. The night was perfect, the season was at its height, the open windows of the Kursaal sent long shafts of unnatural light into the dusky woods, and now and then, in the intervals of the music, one might almost hear the clink of the napoleons and the metallic call of the croupiers rise above the watching silence of the saloons. I had been strolling with a friend, and we at last prepared to sit down. Chairs, however, were scarce. I had captured one, but it seemed no easy matter to find a mate for it. I was on the point of giving up in despair, and proposing an adjournment to the silken ottomans of the Kursaal, when I observed a young man lounging back on one of the objects of my quest, with his feet supported on the rounds of another. This was more than his share of luxury, and I promptly approached him. He evidently belonged to the race which has the credit of knowing best, at home and abroad, how to make itself comfortable; but something in his appearance suggested that his present attitude was the result of inadvertence rather than of egotism... Continue reading book >>

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