The themes of this under-valued novel begin to disengage themselves: the ageing process, the invulnerability of art, indeed the ‘madness of art,’ which insists on seeing more than the immediate ‘real,’ and the vulnerability of love… Henry James’s work had never dealt with love… Now, at the very last of the century… this was the new awareness, the new insight. He was vulnerable: he too could love.
—Leon Edel, (from his newly revised Introduction)

Available January 1, 1995

The Sacred Fount

Fiction by Henry James

One of Henry James’s most mesmerizing and unusual novels, The Sacred Fount (1901) has for its scene a weekend party at the great English country house Newmarch. Here James leads the reader down a bizarre garden path. The Sacred Fount––his only novel to employ a first-person narrator––places us in the hands of an obsessive novelist (never named and never described, but perhaps familiar), who detects alarming changes in his acquaintances. A woman known for her élan has lost her poise, a dull man is charming; a friend is suddenly aged, a plain woman sparkles. Where one improves, another seems to suffer. With “plunges of insight,” “as noiseless and guarded as if I were trapping a bird,” the narrator stalks his fellow guests through the weekend, avidly trying to make sense of what he comes to believe are actual exchanges of life force. “The sacred fount,” as R.P. Blackmur noted, “is the mystery of the power that passes among us, depleting or restoring us, in friendship, in love, even in more public relations …. [Here] is the beautiful, the critical job of making that mystery manifest.”

Editions: Paperback

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Paperback (published January 1, 1995)

ISBN
9780811212793
Price US
18.95
Trim Size
5x8
Page Count
240

Henry James

Henry James was a prolific author and one of the key figures of 19th century literary realism.

The themes of this under-valued novel begin to disengage themselves: the ageing process, the invulnerability of art, indeed the ‘madness of art,’ which insists on seeing more than the immediate ‘real,’ and the vulnerability of love… Henry James’s work had never dealt with love… Now, at the very last of the century… this was the new awareness, the new insight. He was vulnerable: he too could love.
—Leon Edel, (from his newly revised Introduction)