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The Jolly Corner

The Jolly Corner by Henry James
By: (1843-1916)

The Jolly Corner by Henry James is a haunting and thought-provoking novella that explores the themes of identity, regret, and the shadows of the past. The story follows the protagonist, Spencer Brydon, as he returns to his childhood home in New York City after spending many years living abroad. Upon his return, he becomes obsessed with the idea that another version of himself, a darker and more successful version, lurks in the shadows of the house.

James masterfully delves into the complexities of Brydon's psyche, as he grapples with his own feelings of inadequacy and his fear of what could have been. The eerie atmosphere of the house and the sense of foreboding that permeate the narrative add to the suspense and tension of the story.

The writing is rich and immersive, drawing the reader into Brydon's inner turmoil and the mystery of the jolly corner. James skillfully weaves together elements of psychological suspense and ghostly apparitions, leaving the reader questioning what is real and what is merely a figment of Brydon's imagination. Overall, The Jolly Corner is a captivating and unsettling read that will linger in the reader's mind long after the final page.

Book Description:

“The Jolly Corner,” published in 1908, is considered by many to be a ghost story ranking second only to “The Turn of the Screw.” James’s protagonist, Spencer Brydon, is an American of 56, returned to New York after 33 years in Europe, where he has apparently accomplished little while living off his New York rentals. His friendship with Alice Staverton, and his engagement in the development of a property awaken him to the possibilities that might have been his, had he chosen a different course of life. The “ghost,” if that’s what it is, is that other self that might have been, and his confrontation with that self and its possibilities leads to a deeply unsettling, yet ambiguous, conclusion.

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