Però Washington Square è tra le opere di James che i suoi lettori, io incluso, hanno preferito, e ha ispirato più di un adattamento, sia teatrale che cinematografico. Padre e figlia nella versione cinematografica diretta da William Wyle nel 1949: il dottor Sloper è interpretato da Ralph Richardson e Catherina da Olivia de Havilland. Cera una volta, prima che Washington Square abbia inizio, un uomo, il dottor Sloper, che si sposò per amore. Poi perse tutto: il figlio morì a tre anni, e due anni dopo sua moglie morì dando alla luce una bambina, Catherine, per la quale il padre, il dottor Sloper predisse che non avrebbe conosciuto lamore, che non si sarebbe mai sposata con qualcuno davvero innamorato di lei. Il dottor Sloper non si sposò una seconda volta, non sinnamorò più, neppure di sua figlia, per la quale non nutrì mai amore paterno, piuttosto disprezzo. Olivia de Havilland con Montgomery Clift che interpreta Morris Townsend, sempre nella versione di Wyler. Olivia De Havilland è una più che notevole Catherine Sloper.
The stillness radiates from the main character, Catherine Sloper. Though he allows the reader to see more of her inner life than the other characters ever guess at, Henry James allows Catherine to keep the core of her being a secret even from us. The exchanges between Catherine's various relatives reminded me of Jane Austin's ability to deliver witty dialogue line after line (of course people don't talk like this in real life, but how we wish they did).
As someone who adores just about every last word that Henry James (over-) wrote, it has never gotten any more deliciously (un-)satisfying than this -- a slim, tart little novel about plain, socially unpromising Catherine Sloper, whose wealthy father refuses to allow her to marry Morris Townsend, whom he believes to be mercenary. In later years, James himself commented that he started "Washington Square" with great disdain for Catherine, which metamorphosed into something much more complicated (similar, maybe, to Tolstoy's creation of Anna Karenina). James ultimately disavowed "Washington Square" -- he even omitted it from his "Collected Works" -- but it marks the first appearance of the central conflict that governs his later, greatest novels: the predation of love upon money, and vice versa.
Time the late 1840's, in New York City, Catherine Sloper, a twenty-one year old woman, is the daughter of a prominent and wealthy doctor, you'd think all the young men would be trying to marry her, but Catherine is plain of face and very shy. Everything changes, this peaceful situation, when Catherine meets Mr.Morris Townsend, a beautiful man as she thinks, at her cousin's engagement party. Mr.Sloper has to save his daughter from this evil man Townsend or he fears Morris will ruin her, spending all his money and treating Catherine badly .
Just before Washington Square I read Daisy Miller and now I simply cant help comparing the main heroines. Unlike Daisy Catherine does not want to shine, she does not demand our constant attention. So where Daisy looked lovely and dazzling Catherine appeared old and rather ridiculous. Catherine, being respectful and dutiful daughter, is nonetheless a great disappointment to her father. She is a victim of cruel remarks of her brilliant father who does not miss any opportunity, any neat bon-mot, any snide comment, even if it would hurt her feelings. She is a victim of her foolish aunt Lavinia whose unbridled appetite for love affair and secret romance makes her push Catherine into the hands of fortune hunter. Catherine loves her father dearly but at the same time shes afraid of him. But it lasts until it dawns to her that father doesnt love her, that he doesnt see his daughter as an independent, self-reliant person, that he denies her right to own opinion and choices, that even her act of rebellion is to him a kind of entertainment and he only thinks that his dull daughter had, after all, the guts to stand up to him, that Catherine wasnt to him a partner at all. From her own point of view the great facts of her career were that Morris Townsend had trifled with her affection, and that her father had broken its spring. Doctor Sloper says at one point of Catherine not being scenic.
Book Review 4 out of 5 stars for Washington Square, a classic novel written in 1880 by Henry James. Henry James is my favorite American realistic period or classic novelist, and Washington Square is an example of why. In this classic, the tale of the average woman, who is set to inherit a large sum of money, meets dashing man... You read his words as though you are in your head, thinking about choices and decisions for hours, then acting on them. here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT.
Catherine is in her late 20's when a suitor finally appears (a late age for that era). Her suitor would be quite a catch for a gal like Catherine, so her father, a wealthy physician, immediately recognizes (and so do we) that he's after her inheritance.
"'You are shockingly cold-blooded!' said Mrs. Almond. If Catherine was quiet, she was quietly quiet...If the doctor was stiff and dry, and absolutely indifferent to the presence of his companions, it was so lightly, neatly, easily done,that you would have had to know him well to discover that...he enjoyed having to be so disagreeable. Certainly, I will seek out many more of James' novels in the future.
His method of writing from the point of view of a character within a tale allowed him to explore the phenomena of consciousness and perception, and his style in later works has been compared to impressionist painting.