Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece
by Michael Gorra '79
“Michael Gorra's ‘Portrait of a Novel’ is not just a study of ‘The Portrait of a Lady’ but is a kind of re-creation, or re-imagining, of Henry James's novel, as well as a sharply limned impression of its author at the time he was composing this masterwork of American fiction. Who would have thought a work of literary criticism would be such a good read?” —John Banville, Wall Street Journal
- Listen to a conversation about the book between Michael Gorra ’79 and Alicia Christoff, assistant professor of English.
- Read an excerpt and a review.
- Learn more about the author.
- Visit Amherst Reads on Goodreads and start a discussion.
Michael Gorra has taken an original approach to this great American progenitor of the modern novel, combining elements of biography, criticism, and travelogue in re-creating the dramatic backstory of James’s masterpiece, Portrait of a Lady (1881). Gorra, an eminent literary critic, shows how this novel—the scandalous story of the expatriate American heiress Isabel Archer—came to be written in the first place.