texts

‘The Princess Casamassima’ / Henry James
in : The Atlantic monthly, vols 56–58 (1885–1886)

disposition :

chapters vol. no. issue dated pages
1–3 in 56 335 September 1885 289–311
4–7 in 56 336 October 1885 433–459
8–11 in 56 337 November 1885 577–602
12–13 in 56 338 December 1885 721–738
14–16 in 57 339 January 1886 66–90
17–21 in 57 340 February 1886 145–178
22–24 in 57 341 March 1886 326–351
25–38 in 57 342 April 1886 485–507
29–32 in 57 343 May 1886 645–668
33–36 in 57 344 June 1886 789–813
37–38 in 58 345 July 1886 58–76
39–40 in 58 346 August 1886 209–228
41–44 in 58 347 September 1886 349–375
45–47† in 58 348 October 1886 433–448

originally intended to appear in twelve issues, James was writing the novel as serialization went on and it eventually extended to fourteen; you can view this original online through the page images at the Cornell University Making of America site (select The Atlantic monthly and then the year); also a transcription of this text has been mounted by Blackmask Online (which is just as well, as the automatic OCR on the Cornell site comes out riddled with errors!)

† note: the final installment was issued with incorrect chapter numbering ‘44’‒‘46’, ‘44’ having in fact been the last chapter in the penultimate installment: these were corrected to 45–47 in the subsequent monograph editions


The Princess Casamassima: a novel / by Henry James. – London ; New York : Macmillan, 1886. – 3 v. ; 252, 257, 242 p. ; 19 cm.

the first book publication, in the then still traditional British three-volume format, issued on 1886-10-22, in an edition of 750 copies, retailing at 31/6 (one and a half guineas); in this and all later issues the original five ‘books’ into which the 47 chapters were grouped (1–11, 12–21, 22–32, 33–42 and 43–47) was increased to six by redividing books 3 and 4 into three, books 3–5 (22–28, 29–37 and 38–42), leading to the unbalanced division 11-10-7-9-5-5 – the book splits do not correspond to the volume splits!

The Princess Casamassima: a novel / by Henry James. – New York : Macmillan, 1886 – 596 p. ; 19 cm.

The Princess Casamassima: a novel / by Henry James. – London : Macmillan, 1887. – 596 p. ; 19 cm.

the first one-volume edition, published in America on 1886-11-02 at $1·75 and in Britain in 1887-08 at 6/‒; 3000 copies were printed (in Edinburgh?) for both territories; according to Girling the type was first set for this one-volume edition and was stereotyped and leaded (that is, line-spaced) to print the three-volume one which was then issued first; in 1888 a yellowback (2/‒) issue was produced, with two batches of 2000 copies printed


The Princess Casamassima / by Henry James. – New York : Scribner ; London : Macmillan, 1908. – 2 v. (xxii, 362; 430 p.) ; 22 cm. – (The novels and tales of Henry James : New York edition ; v. 5–6)

contents : vol. 1 : books 1–2 (chapters 1–21); vol. 2 : books 3–6 (chapters 22–47)

the are the usual raft of alterations to the text, made by James so that the novel would fit better his scheme for this ‘definitive’ edition, which was sold on subscription only: in America an initial 1500 copies of each volume were available at $2, $4 or $8 per volume (depending on the binding chosen); one hundred sets of the same sheets were bound in Britain for Macmillan’s first, 8/6 per volume issue; this volume appeared early in 1908 and an unknown quantity of additional copies, in both territories, were produced later


The Princess Casamassima / by Henry James. – London : Macmillan, 1921. – 2 v. ; ; 20 cm. (The novels and stories of Henry James ; v. 10–11)

the first major collection of James’s fiction after his death; in thirty-five volumes: an expanded version of the New York edition plan is used, so the contents of these two volumes are the same as NYE 5–6


for a summary of later editions of this novel see the index to novels’ reprints on this site


commentaries and discussions

sadly I’ve only had time to review a handful of critical works; these are largely those to which I have had easy access


‘Preface’ by Henry James
in : The Princess Casamassima (New York edition) — see above;
reprinted in : The art of the novel : critical prefaces / by Henry James, with an introduction by Richard P. Blackmur. – New York ; London : Scribner, 1934. – xli, 348 p. ; 22 cm.pages 59–78

relevant text available on this website


Henry James / by Leon Edel. – Vol. 3 : The middle years (1884)‒1894. – London : Hart-Davis, 1963 — pages 116–128

The life of Henry James / by Leon Edel. – Vol. 1 : 1843–1889. – Harmondsworth : Penguin, 1977 ISBN 0-14-055117-4pages 770–781

Henry James : a life / by Leon Edel. – London : Collins, 1987 ISBN 0-00-217870-2pages 324–328

these are the sections of Edel’s famous biography which deal with his interpretation of this novel as writing out James’s melancholy in the years following his parents’s deaths


‘Hyacinth and the Princess’
chapter 4 in : Henry James and the naturalist movement / by Lyall H. Powers. – [East Lansing, MI] : Michigan State University Press, 1971. – 200 p. ; 24 cm. ISBN 0-87013-156-7pages 88–123

this book was the first major investigation of James’s attempts in the 1880s to write English novels in the French and Russian realist traditions; in this chapter Powers follows the trajectory of Hyacinth’s relationships to the other characters and how the influence of the naturalist school affects their presentation


‘On editing a paragraph of The Princess Casamassimaby H. K. Girling
in : Language and style, vol. 8 no. 4 (Fall 1975), pages 243–263

a detailed examination of the differences between all the texts of the first paragraph of chapter 15 dating from James’s lifetime, including the surviving manuscript (the one James copied out for the printers of Atlantic monthly); shows in particular how the printers and James treated the punctuation and what difference these variants make to the effect and interpretation of the passage


‘A toot of the trumpet against the scholarly regiment of editors’ by Harry Knowles Girling
in : Bulletin of research in the humanities, vol. 81 (1978), pages 297–323

as part of his paper on the way textual editors have a misplaced trust in printers’ ability to reproduce exactly what an author specifies, Girling follows up his detailed examination of a single paragraph with a statistical analysis (pages 313–321) of the punctuation changes in chapter 1 of The Princess


The library of Henry James / compiled and edited with essays by Leon Edel and Adeline R. Tintner. – Ann Arbor, MI ; London : UMI Research Press, 1987. – (Studies in modern literature ; no. 90). – ISBN 0-8357-1856-5

lists the known contents of Henry James’s personal library, compiled from sale catalogues and surviving association copies;

Adeline R. Tintner’s article ‘The books in the books : what Henry James’s characters read and why’ (pages 69–96, revised from a 1978 article in A. B. Bookman’s weekly) discusses The Princess as ‘James’s “library” book’ because of the number of literary and book references; in discussing Lady Aurora’s ‘puerile library’ Tintner, in so far as one can make out among the missing quotation marks, gives the wrong death date for the Marquise de Crequi (although the correct date appears in the title given in the list of James’s library), fails to name the author of the Récit d’une sœur and misidentifies J. T. de Saint-Germain as the eighteenth century necromancer and adventurer ‘Saint-Germain’ instead of as the pen-name of J.-R. Tardieu; apart from that, it’s worth a quick look!


‘Promissory notes : the prescription of the future in The Princess Casamassima’ by Deborah Esch
in : American literary history, vol. 1 no. 2 (1989), pages 317–338

a thoroughgoing review of the implications of J. L. Austin’s view of ‘promising’: that ‘fully intending is not enough – you must also undertake to show that “you are in a position to promise”


Henry James and London : the city in his fiction / John Kimmey. – New York : Peter Lang, 1991. – x, 206 p. ; 24 cm. (American university studies ; ser. 4, English language and literature ; v. 121) ISBN 0-8204-1359-3pages 87–108

discriminates amongst the various London locations detailed in the novel, in terms of both characteristics and social status; investigates their symbolism for James, and describes other London features (such as the quality of light and the weather)


(1) ‘Henry James’s subterranean blues : a rereading of The Princess Casamassimaby Wendy Graham
in : MFS : modern fiction studies, vol. 40 no. 1 (Spring 1994), pages 51–84

(2) ‘The politics of sexual dissidence in The Princess Casamassima
chapter 5 in : Henry James’s thwarted love / by Wendy Graham. – Stanford, CA : Stanford University Press, 1999. – xii, 289 p. ; 24 cm. ISBN 0-8047-3539-5 (cloth). – ISBN 0-8047-3847-5 (pbk) — pages 177–206

the major early exploration of homosexual tropes in the novel, from Hyacinth and Muniment to cross-class and cross-race questions, showing how James struggled to avoid contemporary negative stereotypes; there are minor changes of wording in (2), the book version


‘Princess Casamassima and Octave Feuillet’ and ‘Expectations of Rastignac in The Princess Casamassimachapters 3 and 4 in :
Reading Henry James in French cultural contexts / Pierre A. Walker. – DeKalb, IL : Northern Illinois University Press, 1995. – ISBN 0-87580-192-7

chapter 3 explores in depth the relationship of the novel to Feuillet’s Histoire d’une parisienne (1881) and La veuve (1883), drawing parallels between the Princess and the ‘parisienne’ of the former and between Hyacinth’s fate and that of the hero in the latter; chapter 4 compares Hyacinth to Rastignac, the hero of Balzac’s Le Père Goriot (1835)


‘The inward revolution : sexual terrorism in The Princess Casamassimaby Elizabeth Carolyn Miller
in : The Henry James review, vol. 24 no. 2 (Spring 2003), pages 146–167

analyses the female characters (who have received little critical attention) to reveal the novel’s ‘pressing concern with gender and the role of women in late-Victorian London’ (page 147)


 “Bloom[ing] on a dog’s allowance” : Hyacinth Robinson and the redemption of the working class in Henry James’s The Princess Casamassimaby Christopher Stuart
in : American literary realism, vol. 36 no. 1 (Fall 2003), pages 22–39

identifies ‘the same blend of sympathy and condescension [as] noted in his [James’s] treatment of the poor in the earlier travel sketches’ [that is, those eventually collected in Italian hours, 1909] (page 28); goes on to read the novel for Hyacinth’s credentials as a ‘peculiar revolutionary’ (page 31)


Death in Henry James / Andrew Cutting. – Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. – ix, 198 p. ; 23 cm. ISBN-13 978-1-4039-9336-6. – ISBN 1-4039-9336-Xpages 36–40, 59–62 and passim

although not offering an extended discussion of the novel, nor even a meditation on suicide (which word is not indexed!), Cutting makes useful comparisons with Roderick Hudson and telling points on Henry James’s presentation of death, particularly when it involves the centre of consciousness of the narrative


‘Witnessing the invisible : narrative mediation in The Princess Casamassimaby David Stivers
in : Henry James review, vol. 28 no. 2 (Spring 2007), pages 159–173

teases out how themes of spectatorship and narrative production enable James to explore the root of his audience’s fear of revolutionaries, that of their ‘not knowing’


‘Hanging together in Henry James’
chapter 4 in : Bad form : social mistakes and the nineteenth-century novel / Kent Puckett. – New York ; Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2008. – viii, 177 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. ISBN 978-0-19-533275-9pages 118–149

basing his(?) discussion, which originated in a PhD thesis, around the fact that Hyacinth is described by the Princess as ‘never mak[ing] a mistake’ in social situations, Puckett ‘work[s] to describe the relationship between coherence, the [human] mistake, and what can and cannot be seen’ in the novel (p. 121); finds that ‘Hyacinth can pass imperceptibly from class to class, a fact that ruins the naturalist logic often supposed to organize’ the novel (p. 12), and which allows Hyacinth to infiltrate society and thus makes him useful to the anarchists (p. 148); note: some of the ideas in this chapter appear in journal articles by Puckett in 2007 and 2010(!)


The Princess Casamassima and the theatrical cosmopolis’ by Thomas Peyser
in : American literary realism, vol. 42 no. 2 (Winter 2010), pages 95–113

tracing the theatricality of everyday life to show that James ‘provides a critique of the theatrical representation of self that seemed an inevitable byproduct of an ever more egregious internationalism’ (p. 97); in the novel ‘the locus of evil is almost impossible to isolate, and a prime cause of this confusion is the theatricality that encompasses the entire social spectrum’ (p. 108); argues that James ‘employed the techniques of realism to depict the retreat of an ascertainable reality from the modern scene’ (p. 109)


 “To help the nation to save its soul” : museum purposes in James’s The Princess Casamassimaby John Pedro Schwartz
in : Victorian literature and culture, vol. 38 no. 1 (2010), pages 239–254

borrows from modern museology the notion that museums tend to reinforce existing power relations, so as to demonstrate how Hyacinth’s dilemma parallels that of the museum: the conflict between overthrow of the social order and a growing attachment to cultural achievements; situates this within the ideas of William Morris, Matthew Arnold, and John Ruskin


‘The secrets of modernism : Henry James and conspiracy’ by Roland Végső
in : Hungarian journal of English and American studies, vol. 16 no. 1–2 (2010), pages 31–44

meditates on the role of secrecy in the opposition of the aesthetic and the political; ‘if there is a secret left in James’s art: it is nothing else but the secret of power’ (p. 33)


‘The pleasures of conspiracy in Henry James’s The Princess Casamassimaby Alex Beringer
in : Studies in American fiction, vol. 39 no. 1 (Spring 2012), pages 23–42

reads back from recent work on James’s late-period ‘relish for feelings of overwhelming surprise and alienation’ (p. 23) to this middle-period novel, arguing that it ‘focuses on recreating the eerie sensation of “not knowing, but only guessing and trying to ignore” how a conspiracy might be underfoot and underway’ (p. 24)


‘Queer footing : pedestrian politics and the problem of queer difference in The Princess Casamassimaby Ben Nichols
in : Henry James review, vol. 34 no. 1 (Winter 2013), pages 98–111

argues against facile normative hetero- and homosexual readings of the novel by engaging with the work of Lee Edelman, particularly his No future : queer theory and the death drive (2004), to investigate what it means to value difference and reject sameness, using walking through London slums as a touchstone