One of the wittiest and most scathing of Henry James' novellas, The Aspern Papers chronicles the attempt to extract the valuable letters of the famous and recently deceased poet Jeffrey Aspern from the hands of his past lover and formidable adversary in the battle, Juliana Bordereau.
The plot was reputedly suggested to James by a story he heard of an illicit attempt to get hold of several of Lord Byron's letters. Set in a gloriously described Venice, James winds the tension of the story around the efforts of the annoymous and amoral hero to enveigle his way into the trust of Bordereau via the arms of her spinster sister. The suspense of the tale builds right up until the last moment of the story with a beautiful twist in the tale.
James himself hated any form of intrusion into his privacy, and the sense of danger with which he fills the story as the papers get closer to being obtained and published stirs the suspense of the story right up until the last minute, when the beautiful twist in the tale is revealed.
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