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Book Reviews 117 characters as compared to Howells's attempts to render them more explicitly, even phonetically, at least for his more socially marginalized characters, which Nettels finds often stigmatizing. Nettels makes a strong argument, yet I believe that the degree of "stigmatization" perceived for Howells's dialect-ridden characters will vary from reader to reader. A complete list of works cited would have facilitated readers' access to the documentary treasures here. Throughout I was impressed by Nettels's subtle and perceptive use of her wide-ranging materials, by the persuasiveness of her arguments, and by her engaging, often witty style. James Robert Payne New Mexico State University Sara S. Chapman. Henry James's Portrait of the Writer as Hero. New York: St. Martin's P, 1989. 151 pp. $35.00. Sara S. Chapman's Henry James's Portrait of the Writer as Hero begins promisingly enough with a chapter entitled "James's Writer-Hero: A Modernist Icon." Chapman purports to study "the evolution of Henry James's modernist portrait of the writer-artist in his ultimately symbiotic relation to the reader-critic' ' As she points out, James's Prefaces to the New York Edition provide "the most complete portrayal we have of the reader as interpretive complicitor of the writerartist ," serving the "central tenet of [James's] artistry: the necessary authority of the individual consciousness in defining and interpreting reality, in fiction as in life' ' (1). According to Chapman, this central tenet defines James's modernity. In this way we are prepared for an exploration of the theoretical dimensions of reader response in James's work, expecting to find links perhaps to Wolfgang Iser or Norman H. Holland, David Bleich or Stanley Fish, Michael Riffaterre or Georges Poulet, Walter Benn Michaels or Jane Tompkins. But the the only reference to poststructurtalism in the book is a brief one to Tompkins, focusing on the historical development of reading rather than the theoretical dimensions of subjective criticism. Chapman argues that the modern or postmodern artist—she uses the terms interchangeably—in seeking to fashion a new aesthetic order out of raw materialism and social chaos will abandon omniscience and "recognise the essential, collaborative role of the reader ... [which] will require the reader to interpret the experience of fiction for himself (5). In the opening chapter, Chapman provides a useful characterization of this symbiosis: "The subjective consciousness of ther artist 'hovers' over the world of fact, shaping and informing it but not standing in fixed relation to it, not, in effect, circumscribing it so much as invoking it for the participatory reader, who must cultivate his own consciousness and accept responsibility for interpreting what he finds in the text" (9). Chapman spends the rest of the first chapter tracing the development of the nineteenth-century artist's interest in the individual consciousness, positing its origins in the Romantics, suggesting that the "modernist literary emphases upon dramatising and evoking individual experience or consciousness and upon recogmsing the interpretive responsibility of the reader are traceable to the turn of 118 The Henry James Review the nineteenth century" (14). She points out that for "Coleridge, as for James, the ideal reader is an active reader, one for whom the text is evocative, not definitive, one who accepts responsibility for interpretation, realising that 'meaning' necessarily grows out of the reader's own organising sensibility, stimulated by that of the writer through the text" (15). This is an important point to make about the role of the reader in determining meaning, but it is not a new one. Chapman's book performs a very important service by recovering some of James's masterful stories in Volumes XV and XVI of the New York Edition, demonstrating how they collectively explore not only the nature of the modern artist, but also James's notions about his readers. Written between 1894 and 1901, these stories constitute, as Chapman ably shows, a sustained meditation on the relationship between artist and audience. As she points out: ... [James's] thinking about the experience of writers and critics in these years led to his dramatising with increasing clarity in his own fiction perhaps the most important aspect of his own developing aesthetic: the necessary...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6555
Print ISSN
0273-0340
Pages
pp. 117-120
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-25
Open Access
No
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