The greatest expression of his talent for witty, observant explorations of what it means to ‘live well’, Henry James’s The Ambassadors is edited with an introduction and notes by Adrian Poole in Penguin Classics.
Concerned that her son Chad may have become involved with a woman of dubious reputation, the formidable Mrs Newsome sends her ‘ambassador’ Strether from Massachusetts to Paris to extricate him. Strether’s mission, however, is gradually undermined as he falls under the spell of the city and finds Chad refined rather than corrupted by its influence and that of his charming companion, Madame de Vionnet, and her daughter, Jeanne. As the summer wears on, Mrs Newsome concludes that she must send another envoy to confront the errant Chad – and a Strether whose view of the world has changed profoundly. One of the greatest of James’s late works, The Ambassadors is a subtle and witty exploration of different responses to a European environment.
This edition of The Ambassadors includes a chronology, further reading, glossary, notes and an introduction discussing the novel in the context of James’s other works on Americans in Europe, and the novel’s portrayal of Paris.
Henry James (1843-1916) son of a prominent theologian, and brother to the philosopher William James, was one of the most celebrated novelists of the fin-de-siÃ¨cle. In addition to many short stories, plays, books of criticism, biography and autobiography, and much travel writing, he wrote some twenty novels. His novella ‘Daisy Miller’ (1878) established him as a literary figure on both sides of the Atlantic, and his other novels in Penguin Classics include Washington Square (1880), The Portrait of a Lady (1881), The Awkward Age (1899), The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903) and The Golden Bowl (1904)
If you enjoyed The Ambassadors, you might like Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End, also available in Penguin Classics.