Henry James, “The Real Thing”

Mhairi Catriona Pooler (University of Aberdeen)
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Henry James’s story “The Real Thing” first appeared on April 16 1892 in

Black and White

magazine and was later included in volume XVIII of the

New York Edition

(1907-09) with “Daisy Miller” and eight other short stories. One of James’s “art parables”, as Richard A. Hocks calls them (Hocks, 37), “The Real Thing” is a compact, complex tale concerning the disparity between reality and illusion in art. Suggested to James by an incident related by his friend the


cartoonist George Du Maurier, the “strange and striking couple” (

The Art of the Novel

, 283) in “The Real Thing” raise issues about the relationship between art and life that recur frequently in James’s criticism as well as in his many stories about artists and writers.

In James’s tale Major and Mrs

1329 words

Citation: Pooler, Mhairi Catriona. "“The Real Thing”". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 October 2008 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=25288, accessed 12 June 2024.]

25288 “The Real Thing” 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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