The Ambassadors is a 1903 novel by Henry James, originally published as a serial in the North American Review (NAR).
This dark comedy, seen as one of the masterpieces of James's final period. Henry James considered The Ambassadors his best, or perhaps his best-wrought, novel. It plays on the great Jamesian theme of the American abroad, who finds himself in an older, and some would say richer, culture that that of the United States, with its attractions and dangers.
Here the protagonist is Lambert Strether, a man in his fifties, editor of a small literary magazine in Woollett, Massachusetts, who arrives in Europe on a mission undertaken at the urging of his patron, Mrs. Newsome, to bring back her son Chadwick.
That young man appears to be enjoying his time in Paris rather more than seems good for him, at least to those older and wiser. The novel, however, is perhaps really about Strether's education in this new land, and one of his teachers is the city of Paris — a real Paris, not an idealized one, but from which Strether has much to learn.
Chad Newsome, of course is there too, and so are a scattering of other Americans, his old friend Waymarsh and his new acquaintance Maria Gostrey among them. Had Strether his life to live over again, knowing what he has now learned,. how different would it be? and what are the lessons he takes home with him?
In 1998, the Modern Library ranked The Ambassadors 27th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. This is the 1909 New York edition.
Henry James, OM (Order of Merit) (1843–1916) was an American-born writer, regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism.
He is best known for a number of novels showing Americans encountering Europe and Europeans. His method of writing from a character's point of view allowed him to explore issues related to consciousness and perception, and his style in later works has been compared to impressionist painting. His imaginative use of point of view, interior monologue and unreliable narrators brought a new depth to narrative fiction.
Henry James was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911, 1912, and 1916.