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James Studies 1981: An Analytic Bibliographical Essay by Richard A. Hocks, University of Missouri-Columbia I. INTRODUCTION Over a year ago, Professor Albert von Frank in beginning the 1980 "Analytic Bibliographical Essay" commented in an extended conceit on what he called the ascendancy of the "voids and absences" in James criticism, an allusion not only to the specific impact of Todorov but generally to the structuralist and poststructuralist theory of our times. In 1981, that trend has somewhat abated—not one of the five booklength studies of James reflects it, for example—although theoretical studies and approaches still, at least among the articles , appear with considerable frequency. In some respects there is no single dominant critical or intellectual trend in 1981; there are many good, and occasionally not-sogood , samples of approaches to James that reflect the predispositions of all kinds of scholars, ancient and modern. Part of this has to do surely with James's extensive canon, and part of it has possibly to do with his "transitional" moment in literary history , whereby his genius for experimentation still allied itself successfully with his mimetic presuppositions. In any case, if I were forced to pick a dominant critical practice in the 1981 James scholarship, I would cite something that might surprise many readers of this journal as much as it did me: the real frequency of good close reading, of explication de texte. The titles of such readings, incidentally, do not always imply the nature or extent of such explication . And yet my firm conviction is that theoretical analysis will remain strong and perhaps dominate in the next few years. Those who prefer theoretical analyses may wish to pay particular attention here to what is being said about "The Beast in the Jungle," The Sacred Fount, What Maisie Knew, and "The Figure in the Carpet." A most unscientific glance at the 1981 MLA Bibliography indicates that more work was done on James than on any other nineteenth-century American author, and that only Faulkner seems to be barely ahead of him. Given the significant number of both articles and books not cited in the MLA list, including the best book of the year, by Daniel Mark Fogel, perhaps James has even surpassed Faulkner (who may be equally unrepresented, however). If one had the analogous contest within the Jamesian community of scholarship, however, Adeline Tintner (leaving aside authors of books) would as in previous years be the easy victor. Although I shall not treat her work in a separate section as in 1978-79, her twelve articles will be assessed at various appropriate places throughout this survey/ analysis. Last year Professor von Frank alluded very briefly to HJR as itself "the bravest birth of 1980." Although it is obviously bad form to say it here, I cannot help but point out that in 1981 articles published in HJR already have begun to dominate James scholarship. Perhaps in one respect this is only what might be anticipated, for the journal, after all, is broadly based and the publication of the James Society. And yet, there are some conspicuous instances in which the journal or newsletter of a major literary figure does not publish the best, or even the better, scholarship on that figure, and it is good to see the quite dramatic progress of HJR in such a short time. Not that there weren't numerous and very important essays published elsewhere. But when one looks over the group as a whole, it is just difficult not to see and acknowledge that HJR is starting to become the central vehicle for James studies. Finally, some other particulars. There seems to be at least a one-year consensus that the governess is "inventive," and a new interest in Miles' mysterious breach of conduct at school has emerged. But no one any longer seems to think there's "an honest ghost" anywhere in that otherVolume V 29 Number 1 The Henry James Review Fall, 1983 wise ghostly tale. There are but two pieces of film criticism in 1981, yet both are excellent, one, in fact, by Anthony S. Mazzella, supernal. The two patterns evident a couple of years ago of unusually great interest in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6555
Print ISSN
0273-0340
Pages
pp. 29-59
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-25
Open Access
No
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