Henry James

Louisa Pallant

(written 1887, text of 1890)


by Adrian Dover

Another of the rather overlooked tales in the Henry James canon. Overlooked: except by the French in 1982 – see the commentaries section of my bibliography! Perhaps they warmed to the mother-daughter struggle beneath the surface, but I haven’t had a chance to follow up the references yet to find out the attraction. As so often, James cleverly observes this relationship through an interested insider/outsider, and one of the many small joys in reading the tale is keeping enough distance from the narrator to spot his own assumptions and misreadings. But then, one comes to expect that of James and is disappointed when it is not present or occurs only in small doses. Because of my determination only to present texts here with first edition sources available to me, Louisa Pallant is one of the earliest tales on my Henry James website at present. However, as a writer in his forties, James already had his characteristic approach to the reliability of the narrator.

You may like to know about the exact source of the text presented here, and any errors I encountered while making the edition: these can be found in the note on the text. If you need full details of publications of this tale in James’s lifetime or of a selection of recent critical discussion about it see the bibliography, otherwise just start reading.

this menu and introduction © 2003–2009
part of an edition of Louisa Pallant
on the Ladder : a Henry James website