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The Daily Henry James

A Year of Quotes from the Work of the Master

With a New Foreword by Michael Gorra
A strange and delightful memento of one of the most lasting literary voices of all time, The Daily Henry James is a little book from a great mind. First published with James’s approval in 1911 as the ultimate token of fandom—a limited edition quote-of-the-day collection titled The Henry James Year Book—this new edition is a gift across time, arriving as we mark the centenary of his death. Drawing on the Master’s novels, essays, reviews, plays, criticism, and travelogues, The Daily Henry James offers a series of impressions (for if not of impressions, of what was James fond?) to carry us through the year.

From the deepest longings of Isabel Archer to James’s insights in The Art of Fiction, longer seasonal quotes introduce each month, while concise bits of wisdom and whimsy mark each day. To take but one example: Isabel, in a quote from The Portrait of a Lady for September 30, muses, “She gave an envious thought to the happier lot of men, who are always free to plunge into the healing waters of action.” Featuring a new foreword by James biographer Michael Gorra as well as the original introductions by James and his good friend William Dean Howells, this long-forgotten perennial calendar will be an essential bibelot for James’s most ardent devotees and newest converts alike, a treasure to be cherished daily, across all seasons, for years, for ages to come.

208 pages | 4-1/2 x 7-1/4 | © 2016

A Year of Quotes


Literature and Literary Criticism: American and Canadian Literature


“James can seem cold and unapproachable, but that’s far from the whole story. He was also a raconteur and pleasure-seeker. He believed in laughter, friendship, and kindness. And even as he rounded into plump old age, he embodied the young man’s eagerness for learning and improvement. . . . The virtue of The Daily Henry James is how rousingly it distills the exhortation that echoes across James’s work: Seize the day! Do your work with distinction and conduct your affairs with all the increasing care and decency that you can muster. . . . Buying a daybook is an inherently hopeful act, a small pledge to cultivate a better version of oneself. James’s writing gives nourishment to anyone committed to that most honorable struggle.”

Sam Sacks | Wall Street Journal

"Part of the purpose of this book, one begins to think, is to emphasize bookishness itself. In the face of digitization, print features that gesture toward former ways of reading become more popular: deckle edges on hardbacks (as if the pages really were cut with a paper knife), French flaps on paperbacks (a relatively recent phenomenon in America, but one that  carries an old-fashioned air). The Daily Henry James is small, but its cyclical quality—reach the end, turn back to the beginning the very next day—lends it a sense of permanence. It will belong on shelves a decade from now, it seems to say, as much as it does today, or did a century ago."

Hannah Rosefield | New Yorker

“At first glance, Henry James seems the least likely author of a book of aphorisms and calendrical quotations. One was, however, published in his lifetime: The Henry James Yearbook, with a pithy entry for each day. . . . Originally bound in deep burgundy cloth, it has been reissued as The Daily Henry James. . . . A modern editor would not have chosen ‘Women have no faculty of imagination with regard to a man’s work beyond a vague idea that it doesn’t matter,’ though its effect is mitigated by being taken from a story called The Liar. It is nice to be reminded that ‘having a charming surface doesn’t necessarily prove that one is superficial’ (The Portrait of a Lady). If James is an unlikely source of epigrammatic wit, the book has nevertheless a touching origin.”

J. C. | Times Literary Supplement, "NB"

"Mysterious coincidence/concurrence often happens in publishing (as in life). An example is the publication of two Henry James books: Travels with Henry James and The Daily Henry James. . . .Daily was originally printed in 1911, as the 'ultimate token of fandom.' It was edited by Evelyn Smalley, compiled as a commonplace book—a personal collection of quotes. From The Portrait of a Lady: 'I judge more than I used to—but it seems to me that I have earned the right. One can't judge till one is forty; before that we are too eager, too hard, too cruel, and in addition too ignorant.'"

Marilyn Dahl | Shelf Awareness

Who is your favorite novelist of all time? Henry James, for the range of his sympathy and the quality of his prose. For the way in which he dramatizes moral issues while all the time attending to sensuous and stylish questions. For his seriousness about form in his fiction and the way in which he refuses to allow the reader to make easy judgments, for his insisting on nuance, half-light and suggestion, and for his deep understanding of the strangeness and the wavering nature of motive and feeling in human relationships.”

Colm Tóibín | New York Times Book Review

“A very charming and illuminating tribute.”

Henry James | from his author’s note in the original introduction

“The delicate wit, the urbane humor, the quiet wisdom, the unfailing good temper—I am sure that the readers who have already affirmed their taste by liking these in your [James’s] novels and essays will like them the more in an ordering which would be fatal to inferior performance.”

William Dean Howells | from his note to the author in the original introduction

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