The Aspern Papers

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Author: Henry James
Published: 1888
Language: English
Wordcount: 38,607 / 84 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 63
LoC Category: PS
Downloads: 3,789 3895
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Inspired by the romance between Lord Byron and his mistress Claire Claremont, who in her dotage jealously guarded the poems written by Byron in her honor.

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than anyone else, and we had done it by opening lights into his life. He had nothing to fear from us because he had nothing to fear from the truth, which alone at such a distance of time we could be interested in establishing. His early death had been the only dark spot in his life, unless the papers in Miss Bordereau's hands should perversely bring out others. There had been an impression about 1825 that he had "treated her badly," just as there had been an impression that he had "served," as the London populace says, several other ladies in the same way. Each of these cases Cumnor and I had been able to investigate, and we had never failed to acquit him conscientiously of shabby behavior. I judged him perhaps more indulgently than my friend; certainly, at any rate, it appeared to me that no man could have walked straighter in the given circumstances. These were almost always awkward. Half the women of his time, to speak liberally, had flung themselves at his head, and out of this pernicious fashion many co


Average Rating of 4.5 from 2 reviews: *****
Barry Kew

The Aspern Papers is a novella written by Henry James, originally published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1888, with its first book publication later in the same year. One of James' best-known and most acclaimed longer tales, The Aspern Papers is based on the letters Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote to Mary Shelley's step sister, Claire Clairemont, who saved them until she died. Set in Venice, The Aspern Papers demonstrates James' ability to generate suspense while never neglecting the development of his characters.


Excellent novella about a man's scheme to get hold of a long-dead poet's papers from an elderly woman and her niece. Publishing the papers would bring the man much acclaim, so he concocts a plan to rent rooms in the woman's crumbling Venetian villa while disguising his true purpose from her. He plans to befriend the women, getting them to show him the papers. This story has lots of suspense, along with great character development and wonderful descriptions of Venice. Recommended.

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