Abstract

In James's Autobiography, three complex tableaux of literary initiation involving Dickens challenge the critical assumption that he was not among James's significant literary predecessors. This article offers a close reading of that scene in The Middle Years in which James experiences a 'hallucination' at the site of the infamous Waring Blacking Factory of Dickens's youth. Developing new ideas about influence, it argues that James's terminology for his experience demonstrates his absorption of Dickens's techniques and preoccupations. Proposing that James's oblique but intense presentation enacts the nature of profound influence and invites the critic to decipher its indirection, I suggest that James's artistic 'law,' that 'the artist's energy fairly depends on his fallibility,' is understood through Dickens.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6555
Print ISSN
0273-0340
Pages
pp. 228-238
Launched on MUSE
2004-11-15
Open Access
No
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