Henry James

The wheel of time

(written 1888, text of 1893)


by Adrian Dover

This tale relates another of Henry James’s symmetric situations, where obvious parallels or inversions are drawn between two characters or, in this case, two generations. Critics have had a field day, of course, with the inability of the central male characters to bring themselves to marry (ugly) women. This started with Leon Edel, whose monumental biography of the author points out that the notebook entry for the tale shows us a date on which James paid a visit to Oxford to meet a friend: the plain, spinsterly, but devoted fellow-writer Constance Fenimore Woolson.

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 © 2002–2009 Adrian Dover