What Maisie Knew

What Maisie Knew What Maisie Knew tracks the plight of Maisie Farange whose parents Beale and Ida are in the thick of a bitter divorce battle The novel follows our innocent heroine as she charts these unsettling wa

  • Title: What Maisie Knew
  • Author: Henry James
  • ISBN: 9781909399525
  • Page: 461
  • Format: Paperback
  • What Maisie Knew tracks the plight of Maisie Farange, whose parents, Beale and Ida, are in the thick of a bitter divorce battle The novel follows our innocent heroine as she charts these unsettling waters, as the adults that make up her world shift her like a pawn, and new role models enter her orbit, offering solace and possible escape James wields his notoriously complWhat Maisie Knew tracks the plight of Maisie Farange, whose parents, Beale and Ida, are in the thick of a bitter divorce battle The novel follows our innocent heroine as she charts these unsettling waters, as the adults that make up her world shift her like a pawn, and new role models enter her orbit, offering solace and possible escape James wields his notoriously complex prose with a light touch in this delicately played and poignant drama, seen through the eyes of a child who has seen too much.

    One thought on “What Maisie Knew”

    1. *A wise old child lived among strange folkThe more she saw, the less she spoke,The less she spoke, the more she cried,What's to become of that wise old child?**Maisie, Maisie, sharp yet hazy,How does your garden grow?With jam suppers and boiled beef,And pretty ladies all in a row.***There was a fine lady who had a girl child. She had so many lovers, she didn't hear when she cried. She gave her some broth without any bread, Then whipped her right soundly and sent her to bed.****Hush-a-bye Maisie, [...]

    2. Well, I told myself to review more of my 5 star books instead of taking the easy way out projectile sneering at some grisly two star efforts. but it's hard. There are some brilliant Henry James reviews dotted around, and this won't be one of those. I think there's a point in some of these long, long literary careers (it's true of long musical careers too) where you've followed the writer out of the early period into the majestic middle period and you know the late period is going to give you a m [...]

    3. Years ago, I read somewhere, perhaps in Graves' Goodbye to All of That, or a biography on Ford Madox Ford, where it was recorded (a tricky word if it's Graves) that Ford, while out in the trenches, read and greatly admired Henry James' What Maisie Knew. What stuck in my mind was the fact that Ford (as I remember it) thought it a great treatment of evil and children. Ford, a quirky but fine critic, could be a critical bear when it came to James, so the fact that he singled this novel out for prai [...]

    4. How to describe this book; different, unusual, even disturbing on some level. Young Maisie Farange has, possibly, the two worst parents in the history of literature, Dickens characters notwithstanding. Her two step parents, from opposite sides of the parental marriages, were somewhat better, but still lacking from my point of view. Her governess, Mrs. Wix, was the most responsible adult in the book, certainly the best one to have custody of Maisie. I would like to read about Maisie as an adult, [...]

    5. When I saw that this book was about a young girl whose parents divorce and both remarry, and how she is shuttled between the various adults that have some reponsibility for her, I wondered why it wasn't in the Ultimate Teen Book Guide in place of 'Daisy Miller'. But the reason for that became clear as soon as I started reading it. The language is very difficult, with sentences that go on for line after line without ever arriving at an obvious meaning. I was often getting to the end of a paragrap [...]

    6. Book Circle Reads 43Rating: 3.75* of fiveThe Book Description: What Maisie Knew (1897) represents one of James's finest reflections on the rites of passage from wonder to knowledge, and the question of their finality. The child of violently divorced parents, Maisie Farange opens her eyes on a distinctly modern world. Mothers and fathers keep changing their partners and names, while she herself becomes the pretext for all sorts of adult sexual intrigue. In this classic tale of the death of childh [...]

    7. My real life reading friends and I - a scant five of us - have, at my suggestion, and since 2014, attempted an annual group reading project (book, theme or author). That first year was Thomas Mann'sDoctor Faustus. In 2015, we pledged to read novels about WWI by authors from the participant countries. Last year was Anthony Trollope. For reasons you could guess as easily as I can, one of the five of us (not me), at the end of each year, has not read any book in the project. The rest of us have all [...]

    8. I hate Henry James with an eternal and fiery passion. I rarely hate a book utterly; I hate this book. It's actually worse than The Bostonians, which I would not have imagined possible. It's just not necessary to write sentences two hundred words long with four semicolons and eight commas. It's just not. Especially not EVERY sentence.It's like reading an impossibly uninteresting Jane Austen novel that's been babelfished into German and then back. I could only read it for ten minutes at a time, be [...]

    9. In the annals of classic fiction I have encountered some truly monstrous parents (some of the parents in Austen or Dickens certainly come to mind), but the mother and father of little Maisie Farange must surely be the worst. They are truly beyond despicable, and if I could reach into the pages of Henry James's What Maisie Knew, I'd throttle them both! Okay, now that I've gotten that off of my chest, perhaps I can provide an objective review of this novel. What Maisie Knew was written by Henry Ja [...]

    10. Thought I was over a mild obsession with Henry James, but not so much. Having bumped into the Toronto Film Festival and a movie adaptation of What Maisie Knew, I got the book. And was transported back to college and my infatuation with James and his marvelous voyeuristic peerings into emotional (sexual) repression. Freud was obsessed with it. James as well. I thought Turn of the Screw was the best example before today. Oh blimey, that marvelous scene when The Governess first conjures Peter Quint [...]

    11. James has a knack both for creating monsters and weaklings. This book seemed to contain nothing but, and depending on how you look at them, each its possible to see each character as being a bit of both. On the surface, it all drives towards a big moral choice for Masie. But I keep thinking that the choice is ultimately false. There's so much baseness underlying each of her options, that it was hard for me to see it as a moral choice at all. Did she do the right thing? Did she even end up with t [...]

    12. Desilusão total!! Nunca um livro fora para mim tão entediante não sei se a sua leitura tornou-se fastidiosa por ter lido, antes, a divertidíssima Pornopopeia, pois como sabemos, quando acabamos de ler um livro que nos preenche, o próximo, se não for tão bom, ressente-se na nossa concentração, na capacidade, ou não, de assimilarmos o enredo, a ação, de nos empatizarmos ou não com as personagens, enfim, não conseguimos fruir de tudo aquilo que uma boa narrativa nos poderá reservar.H [...]

    13. Try as I might, I just couldn't get into what I thought was going to be right up my alley. I blame that partly on circumstances -- I do much of my reading on the subway, and you just can't read James like that: a short trip alone will get you through a mere paragraph which you'll have gone over three or four times trying to even comprehend. So yes, I'll give James another chance when I can read him under more favorable conditions, but I also find his style needlessly cumbersome and obscure rathe [...]

    14. I read The Ambassadors and The Portrait of a Lady sometime in the early ‘90s, when I was in graduate school. They passed through my consciousness with nary a ripple; the impression that I carried away was…boredom. I wasn’t able to engage with any of the characters, and the elite social milieu of late Victorian/Edwardian England wasn’t of interest to me as such (give me a W. Somerset Maugham tale and it’s a different story). Recently, and after much mental to-ing and fro-ing, I picked u [...]

    15. After finishing this book, I recognize, in retrospect, that it's a thorough and insightful look at the psyche of a young girl, fought over by her divorced parents and, ultimately, her step-parents, yet while I was still in the process of reading it, I could hardly stand to keep turning the pages, perhaps due, in part, to the sheer number of phrases and, by extension, commas that Henry James packed into every sentence. (See what I did there?)

    16. Published in 1897, What Maisie Knew is a novel of Henry James’ late middle period, and it presages many of the characteristics of his great late novels. As the story opens, Maisie Farange is about five years old, and the acrimonious marriage of her parents Beale and Ida is over. The divorce settlement stipulates that each will be given equal custody of Maisie, six months at a time. From the onset they use Maisie to torment each other, first trying to deny the former partner any access to her a [...]

    17. A tough but very rewarding read. Maisie has the unenviable lot of being born to a handsome but worldly couple unready for either marriage or parenthood and is used by both parents as fodder for their contentious divorce and subsequent perpetual warfare. One might think that this would be a very dark book ( it was written just after The Turn of the Screw) but that would be without reckoning with Maisie, who is a comic marvel, a little genius and ultimately a heroine. Some say she is a bit of a se [...]

    18. I was angry while reading this book. Children forced to act as adults, because the adults in their lives act like children. Maisie learned at an early age how to survive divorce. Her parents stole her childhood from her, by making her a pawn in their disputes. Then they chose other people to influence Maisie who were just as bad. I liked the book, but had to get used to the dialogue of the times. Good book to read abôut how not to handle a divorce with children involved.

    19. I'm sorry Mr. James. I'm at page 175 and I just can't handle any more. I have no idea who "she" and "he" are referring to, and long long long long sentences where "she said" "he said" but absolutely nothing happens. So I'll never know what Maisie knew.

    20. Правдив портрет на английското общество и нравите му в края на 19-ти век и история на бързото и болезнено съзряване на едно дете - това е накратко "Какво знаеше Мейзи", към която подходих с много големи очаквания. И може би щяха да се оправдаят, ако книгата беше събрана в максим [...]

    21. An unsigned review published in the 1897 Manchester Guardian describes this book as "a study, not a story or a drama", "a work of art, but hardly one which we wish to hang on our walls."I feel like these words perfectly capture the essence of Henry James' work. It is a study of a child's innocence amidst the entanglement of adult relationships and one can not help but feel a deep sense of compassion towards Maisie. Nothing of the situation she finds herself in -the ugly divorce of her parents an [...]

    22. I recommend this book to anyone who cares about the craft of novel writing--or the ability of a middle-aged man to imagine himself as a young girl.I learned that James is brilliant. Maise has the hots for Sir Claude. And most parents are as awful as we always imagined them to be when we were children.

    23. If you think you might like late James, pick this up -- it will separate the curious from the James fanatics. Playing with his own "junior adult" style of writing for children, James refracts a sordid, petty adult world through precocious eyes. Beautifully sustained -- as satisfying as calculus.

    24. Romanzo difficile, affascinante, criptico e controverso come non mai. Le prime tre qualità sono caratteristiche congenite ad ogni scritto dell’americano naturalizzato inglese, la quarta deriva invece dalla delicata operazione di traduzione che può risultare inficiante rispetto alla lettura e alla stessa comprensione. Sono stata fortunata e mi sono imbattuta, senza sapere prima dei limiti di altre traduzioni in circolazione, nel lavoro di Ugo Tessitore per i tipi di Marsilio; in una breve e n [...]

    25. During my tenure as a student at the university, I read my fair share of 19th century authors. While the 19th century was not my favorite time period—I took as many medieval literature classes as I could and devoured Viking/Icelandic sagas—Henry James was one of the authors that kept reoccurring. Many of my professors liked his work; however, without fail, we would always read Daisy Miller. So, even while I had a little experience with James, I never had the chance to read one of his novels. [...]

    26. While some of James' fiction can be confusing to read, Maisie is relatively easy to follow, though you might find yourself going back over a sentence to get its full flavor. Reading some of James' sentences is like hang-gliding from the first word to the period—you take in so much information along the way that you're likely to get a bit giddy.The story of the sensitive daughter of divorced and irresponsible parents, What Maisie Knew has great contemporary relevance as an unflinching account o [...]

    27. "The Captain? What Captain?""Why when we met you in the Gardens-- the one who took me to sit with him. That was exactly what he said."Ida let it come on so far as to appear for an instant to pick up a lost thread. "What on earth did he say?"Maisie faltered supremely, but supremely she brought it out. "What you say, mamma-- that you're so good.""What 'I' say?" Ida slowly rose, keeping her eyes on her child, and the hand that had busied itself in her purse conformed at her side and amid the folds [...]

    28. Thanks, Henry James, for writing such a terrible book that I literally struggled to read this. I hated to pick it up, loved to put it down, had to check it out beyond the number of times allowed by the library, finally settling for becoming overdue, and now have something like $10 in library fines. The only way we're even is if you send me my $10. Another reviewer says: "Apparently, Lawrence Durrell posed this question: "Would you rather read Henry James or be crushed to death by a great weight? [...]

    29. DNF. Sadly, having picked this book up cheap as a punt because it is a classic and because it was something different to what I usually read, it proved to be too different for my tastes. What essentially is an interesting premise - the life of a young girl as she is passed between her divorced parents, told from her incomplete and immature POV - was so mired in James' convoluted long (and poorly constructed) sentences, it was rendered a labour to read. Yes, in complete silence and given an unint [...]

    30. An only child of divorced parents is passed around among half a dozen adults of varying relationships to her (nannies, parents' new lovers, second spouses), all of whom are unfailingly selfish and incapable of framing her well-being in any terms other than what suits them. Admittedly anyone in the world who claims to be acting in a purely disinterested manner on any occasion is probably not telling the truth but this presents a notably pessimistic view of human nature. Written in 1897, close to [...]

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