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IV. 2. Henry James Focus of Study Life Experience Literary Career

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1 IV. 2. Henry James Focus of Study Life Experience Literary Career
Point of View Writing Style Major works

2 Henry James ( 1843—1916) James is one of the great figures of transatlantic literature. Father of American “psychological realism”. Novelist, Story Writer, Playwright, Essayist, Literary Critic.

3 Life experience 1843, born in N. Y. City into a wealthy family.
In youth, shuttled back and forth between Europe and America, thus received unsystematic but broadly based education. , studied in Harvard Law School. After 1866, lived in Europe much of the time. 1876, moved permanently to England. 1885, The Art of Fiction (with W. Besant) 1915, became a British subject. 1916, received the Order of Merit on his deathbed.

4 Literary Career First stage: international theme.
Works : The American (1877) ; Daisy Miller (1878) and The Portrait of a Lady (1881). Second stage: experimented with various subjects and forms. , three novels in the naturalistic mode. , turned to three dominant subjects: troubled writers and artists, ghosts and apparitions, doomed or threatened children and adolescents. The Turn of the Screw (1898). , seven plays without success.

5 Third stage returned to his international themes and produced the complex and profound novels: The Ambassadors (1903), and The Golden Bowl (1904).

6 Major Works Daisy Miller
The essence of the novella is the relationship which develops between the young, cosmopolitan expatriate and the pretty, naïve, and willful girl. Shows the author’s interest in the conflict between the free and easy American manners and the rigidly prescribed rules of European behaviors.

7 The Portrait of a Lady Major theme: free choice is limited by circumstances and character. Man has to be responsible for his choice. Minor theme: the innocent American in conflict with a sophisticated European society.

8 Point of View Three themes: international theme; the theme of the artist in conflict with society; and the theme of the pilgrim in search of society. Two dominant images: 1. the innocent: the natural good ones. 2. the international theme: the complex relationships between naive Americans and cosmopolitan Europeans.

9 Style To James, the novel is a form perfect in itself.
Founder of psychological realism with a belief that reality lies in the impressions made by life on the spectator. More interested in significant ideas and forms. There is always “central consciousness” or “limited point of view” in a Jamesian novel. James has an abstract bent of mind and his style is apt to be verbose. Jamesian novel is always organic, all parts being in a relation to the whole.

10 significance James was the first American novelist to bring to the form a sense of artistic vocation comparable to Flaubert’s. He refined the novelistic art, purified it, and gave it directions never thought of before his time. Four areas of emphasis have especially attracted scholars in their attempts to isolate the essential contributions to the art of fiction with which James can be credited: point of view, psychological realism, style, and the connection of moral and aesthetic values.

11 Study Questions Describe the elliptical technique James often uses in his narration. What is a narrative ellipsis? How does James employ the technique? What effect does his frequent skipping forward have on the novel as a whole? Portrait of a Lady, as its title would suggest, is largely devoted to the character of Isabel Archer. How does James use his psychological portrayal of Isabel to justify her decision to surrender her treasured independence in order to marry Osmond? "The Portrait of a Lady is consistently focused on the idea of Isabel Archer's independence: whether she has it, whether she is true to it, whether she betrays it, and whether it is more important than her social duty. But the novel never really defines what "independence" means, and as a result, it lacks thematic focus." Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Defend your answer. How does “Psychological Realism” embody in James’ novels?

12 Reference Bell, Millicent. Meaning in Henry James. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1993. Edel, Leon. Henry James: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1963. Gargano, James W. Critical Essays on Henry James: The Early Novels. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1987. Hocks, Richard A. Henry James: A Study of the Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1990. Kaplan, Fred. Henry James: The Imagination of Genius: A Biography. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999. Pollak, Vivian, ed. New Essays on Daisy Miller and The Turn of the Screw. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1993. Tanner, Tony. Henry James: The Writer and his Work. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1985.

13 Thank You Very Much for Attending This Lecture

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