Abstract

This essay contends that James's late fiction subscribed to notions of form and taste best described as statistical, and that statistics was in the first place modeled on eighteenth-and nineteenth-century aesthetics. James's "statistical aesthetics" refers to a form of premodernist impersonality, whereby the suppression of individuality is accomplished through the shaping of selves according to social ideals. Statisticians dubbed such a statistical character "l'homme moyen" ("average man"), indicating not mediocrity but exemplary sociability. James's interest in statistics suggests that we can understand him as a naturalist writer, but in doing so we must reevaluate the commonplace understanding of naturalism as the discourse of social determinism.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6555
Print ISSN
0273-0340
Pages
pp. 101-114
Launched on MUSE
2009-05-20
Open Access
No
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