Books: A Turn of the Screw

HENRY JAMES: THE TREACHEROUS YEARS (1895-1901) by Leon Edel. 381 pages. Lippincott. $10.

On Jan. 5, 1895, Henry James, at the age of 51, had the traumatic experience of his life. His only produced play, Guy Domville, opened to jeers from a London first-night audience. Despite appreciative reviews by Shaw and H. G. Wells, among others, James' overliterary drama closed after hardly more than "15 vulgar nights of the odious stage."

James wanted to be a successful playwright as passionately as some men long to climb Everest. Guy Domville's failure caused him very nearly to break down as a man, but it left...

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