In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK REVIEWS might have offered more detailed connections between Woolf's texts and those of Michel Montaigne or Marcel Proust, whom Woolf read or reviewed even as she was developing the novels under discussion. Otherwise , this is a detailed and eloquent argument that unquestionably demonstrates Woolf's keen perception of, and engagement with, issues related to the civilian experience of the Great War. Levenback's contribution is to acknowledge the importance of Woolf's work for our understanding of World War I, and to point up the precedent of Woolf s art in exposing the myths of the Great War that haunted both civilians and combatants alike. Holly Henry California State University, San Bernardino James & Thwarted Love Wendy Graham. Henry James's Thwarted Love. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999. vii + 289 pp. Cloth $49.95 Paper 19.95 THE CRITICAL RECEPTION of James's work in the first quarter of the twentieth century often focused on the effeminacy, even the perversity , of the man and his aesthetic. As Eric Haralson argues in a forthcoming book, a variety of modernisms have been prescriptively reactive to James's revolt against heterosexual normalcy while others—such as those of Willa Cather and Gertrude Stein—are founded on axioms of sexual and gendered nonconformity. The conflation of artistic genius, effeminacy, and male homosexuality is usually taken to be an outcome of the Wilde trials of 1895. Wendy Graham sets out to complicate this view, in part by studies of The Princess Casamassima and The Bostonians, novels of the 1880s that represent key characters within the terms of modern sexual "morbidity." Even more persuasively, Graham devotes most of her attention to showing that, from the early 1870s onward, James engages with contemporary medicine, physics, and anthropology in developing a composite aesthetic discourse in which characterization occurs within the terms of what she refers to as "the mental-hygiene" ethos endorsed by James's brother William . James responds to this material with ambivalence—allowing it, in Graham's view, to shape Jamesian realism and, in personal terms, to bully him into electing celibacy for himself and to adopting the painfully dutiful approach to the craft of fiction that Oscar Wilde, his artistic nemesis, later mocked. At the same time, James chafes against the ministrations of modern knowledge in a spirit of "romantic rebellion." 235 ELT 44 : 2 2001 Graham shows that the struggle between art and medicine, so to speak, shapes innovative work at least from the 1860s, even the 1850s. This argument makes sense, not only in terms of the extensive medical bibliography that she cites but also in view of the fact that sexual inversion was defined in the mid-1860s and likewise influenced other writers such as George Eliot. Graham's argument likewise correlates with the advent during the 1860s of male-male sexual apology in the Aestheticism of writers and artists associated with Oxford such as Walter Pater and Simeon Solomon, a development that I outline in Masculine Desire (1990). An early novel by James such as Roderick Hudson (1874) is written in conscious response to Pater's arguments in Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873), about male-male desire as a motivating factor in cultural innovation. Critics of Pater have often commented on his interest in contemporary science. Graham supplements these accounts by showing the implication of the Conclusion to The Renaissance in the discourse of mental hygiene. In Graham's account, one finds intensive, ongoing contestation of the meaning of desire in both scientific and artistic work already a generation before the Wilde trials. If there is a further discursive context also important for James, it is the lasting effects on his outlook of the cultural politics of free love in the United States at mid-century. For a time, James's father was an exponent of this politics. Even after retreating to more conventional views, in the 1870s Henry Sr. managed to involve himself in public controversies that damaged himself and his family. His son took the lesson of the destructive effects of publicity but remained a lifelong antagonist of what today is referred to as compulsory heterosexuality. This context is essential to understanding the resistance to...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 235-237
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.