In this lesser known classic James explores in miniature the themes of his major fiction, enlivened by a characteristically keen eye for character and a wry appreciation of both pretension and the absurd
Blackport-on-Dwindle?"all granite, fog, and female fiction"?has been the Gedges' dull domain for some years. They leap, therefore, at the invitation to become the live-in guardians of the birthplace of their nation's literary hero. Anticipating romance and inspiration?in other words, everything that’s been lacking in their daily lives to date?they find instead that the house casts an altogether more sinister spell. Also included is "The Private Life," another little-known work in which James again considers the relevance of the artist’s persona?a theme with continued relevance in literature and the arts.