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Henry James in The Critic, 1883-1885 by Arthur Sherbo, Michigan State University Richard N. Foley notes, in his Criticism in American Periodicals of the Works of Henry James from 1866 to 1916, that a review of James's Portrait of a Lady in the first volume of The Critic (December 3, 1881) was "the first review of James to appear in this important organ of literary criticism, which was to remain faithful to him until it ceased publication in 1906."1 Beatrice Ricks, Henry James: A Bibliography of Secondary Works, lists The Critic among the many periodicals consulted, as does Linda J. Taylor, Henry James, 1866-1916, A Reference Guide. The Critic, it should be said, is the abbreviated title of a periodical founded by Jeannette Leonard Gilder and her brother Joseph in January, 1881, which merged with Putnam's Monthly in October, 1906.2 A number of items about Henry James would seem to have escaped the notice of the three authorities mentioned above. (I have confined myself to the first five volumes only.) The Reference Guide does include two items from the 1883 Critic, but does not list the foUowing remarks in The Lounger, a column of weekly notes written by Miss Gilder, in the September 8 issue of that year (359-60), possibly because the 1883 volume was pubUshed without an index and because items in The Lounger's column almost never bore captions. Unless otherwise indicated, none of the three scholars includes this and the foUowing notices in their compUations. Miss Ricks does not list Miss Gilder, author of The Lounger column, in her "Index of Critics"; Miss Taylor lists Miss Gilder's first contribution in 1900! The Lounger A FRIEND OF MINE said the other day that he considered Henry James a rising young man. He went on to explain that he used the expression not sarcastically but literally: that Mr. James was young yet; and that he was stiU "rising"—rising not merely in notoriety, and in fame as well—but that he showed signs also of improving as an artist; that, in other words, he was still very far from the end of his rope. My friend said that Mr. James's later work seemed to him certainly not overburdened with analysis,—which has been, considered his besetting sin,—and that while his recent essays are perhaps more brilliant, and at the same time more broad and genial than ever, his stories appear to be if anything more rapidly told, as mere stories. MR. JAMES'S own conduct, under the searching and sometimes rather brutal treatment he has received lately, at home and abroad, has been, it seems to me, admirable. He was attacked (especially in England) on account of remarks not made by himself, but by others; he was not only attacked, but what was still more trying, dissected, analyzed, and generally and particularly Henry James in The Critic 137 discussed,—and through all the clamor, I may almost say abuse, he kept quietly on his way, deigning no reply to his detractors, and alluding but once directly to any part of the dispute, notwithstanding that his essays on Trollope and Daudet brought up for his comment the whole subject of the novel. These essays, instead of partaking of the bitterness displayed by some of his critics, were written with the true literary geniality. Is it not somewhat curious, by the way, that with all those literary shortcomings of which he is found guilty by the knowing (and who of us does not take pride and pleasure in showing his appreciation of Mr. James's "limitations"), and with all his personal reticence—notwithstanding the fact that he avoids, almost with ardor, the sensational in his books, and in his life, so far as the public know anything about it,—is it not somewhat curious, I say, that Mr. James should be one of the most interesting literary figures of our day? I should say that, among Americans who write, Mr. James divides with Mr. Whitman the honors of newspaper discussion. By September, 1883, James had written the novels of his so-caUed first period, and it was on these and some...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6555
Print ISSN
0273-0340
Pages
pp. 136-141
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-25
Open Access
No
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