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Blackport-on-Dwindle - 'all granite, fog and female fiction' - has been the Gedges' dull hometown for some years. They leap, therefore, at the invitation to become the live-in guardians of the birthplace of the nation's literary hero. Anticipating romance and inspiration - all that has been lacking in their lives to date - they find, instead, that the house casts an altogether more sinister spell. In The Birthplace, James displays his eye for character and a wry appreciation of pretension and the absurd. As is famously recorded, James doubted Shakespeare's authorship of the plays ascribed to him and The Birthplace illustrates his cynical attitude towards the cult of the Bard and the visitor industry that it had engendered. The Birthplace is published here alongside The Private Life, another little-known work in which James again considers the relevance of the artist's persona - a theme with continued relevance in literature and the arts.
Hesperus Press Ltd
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