Books: The End of an Epic

HENRY JAMES: THE MASTER (1901-1916) by LEON EDEL 591 pages. Lippincott. $12.95.

For almost 20 years Leon Edel's biography of Henry James has been rolling forth, majestic, involuted and nearly interminable, like one of the master's own sentences. Clear-eyed young students who began with Henry James: The Untried Years (1953) had turned middle-aged themselves by the time they popped on their bifocals to read Henry James: The Treacherous Years (1969). "How long, Leon, how long?" cried the reviewer in the Times Literary Supplement when the fourth volume appeared. With this, the fifth and final volume, the question can be answered: 2,152 pages....

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