Henry James: In the Cage

(2013 words)

In August of 1898, James sent a copy of In the Cage to his friends Minnie and Paul Bourget. It was, he wrote, “a poor little pot-boiling study of nothing at all”. He said that he had only finished it because he found it hard to give up on a story, even when something that he imagined to be a subject turned out “on trial really to be none” (Horne, A Life in Letters, 306). He was probably being modest, as he often was to friends about his work. However, James’s reaction to the writing of the tale is curiously parallel to the experience of its protagonist, a London telegraph girl whose insight and imagination allow her to glimpse the secret lives of her upper-class customers. Her powers of observation and …

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Hutchison, Hazel McNair. "In the Cage". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 March 2011
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=4479, accessed 31 May 2016.]