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Reading Groups

The Stories of NYC: Henry James's New York with Sheridan Hay

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Four Sessions Wednesdays, 6:00 pm EDT - 7:30 pm EDT April 3 to April 24, 2024

Online via Zoom

This reading group is sold out. To join the waitlist, please email Sebastian Mazza at [email protected].

The ‘With Book’ option includes a copy of The New York Stories of Henry James at an additional 10% discount from our Bookstore.

Meeting Dates:
4/3, 4/10, 4/17, 4/24
Online via Zoom

In recognition of the 400th anniversary of the establishment of New York City in 1624, we’re exploring The Stories of NYC.

As a young child Henry James lived with his family in New York City, in the area between Washington Square and Fourteenth Street. In his memoir of his first fourteen years, A Small Boy and Others, he wrote: “I have lost nothing of what I saw and that though I can’t now quite divide the total into separate occasions the various items surprisingly swarm for me.” He had not watched New York change and so the city of his childhood remained frozen in memory. After 1855, New York was lost to him—the James family moved to Boston and traveled throughout Europe. All the while, as Colm Tóibín says in his introduction to The New York Stories of Henry James, “a new world was being built on the site of his dreams.” Some of those dreams became dark indeed… In this group, we will explore a selection of James’s New York stories, beginning with Washington Square; “The Jolly Corner,” and finally James’s last published short story, “A Round of Visits.” We will examine the city’s relation to Henry James, and how New York, “in all its unresolved power, remained like an undertow in his consciousness for all the years.”

We begin with the novella, Washington Square. Please read for the first meeting up to Page 307, the end of section XXI.

What to expect from this reading group: Each 90-minute session will include approximately 30 minutes of direct address, setting up the historical, biographical and literary context of the text under consideration. This is followed by an hour of discussion, turning to the text to cite specific examples and to respond to questions. I follow up each session with an email of notes and comments.

Led by

  • Sheridan Hay Photo

    Sheridan Hay

    Sheridan Hay

    Sheridan Hay holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her first novel, The Secret of Lost Things (Doubleday/Anchor), which features a lost novel by Herman Melville, was a Booksense Pick, a Barnes and Noble Discover selection, shortlisted for the Border’s Original Voices Fiction Prize, and nominated for the International Impac Award. A San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and a New York Times Editor’s Choice, foreign rights have been sold in fourteen countries. Sheridan has led The Center’s Moby-Dick reading group many times, as well as the popular Henry James group.