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412Philosophy and Literature equivalent to saying diat "there must be rules—but there are no rules" (p. 78). More generaUy, Scholes has a tendency to equate reading widi diinking (see p. 80), which robs die former ofsome ofits specificity; he may, at times, conflate logical necessity and ethical imperative (on p. 19, for example, what is the force of "must" in "We must respect the Odier in the text because, as human beings, we have a dimension that is irreducibly social?); and he may not always take into account the fact that we read for many different reasons. But die briUiance and range of his readings, the vigor of his developments, and die openness of his stance make ProtocoL· ofReading wonderful. University of PennsylvaniaGerald Prince GL·sts, Demons, andHenryJames: "TL· Turn oftL· Screw" at tL· Turn oftL· Century, by Peter G. Beidler; xx & 252 pp. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1989, $25.00. HenryJames's superb thriller, The Turn oftL· Screw (1898), has been subjected to two grand lines ofinterpretation. In one reading the ghasdy apparitions are really ghosts who oppose the protective governess-narrator as they fasten their evil upon her litde charges, MUes and Flora. In die other, the ghosts are really projections, hallucinations, of die psychologically troubled narrator-governess as she unwittingly fastens her destructive desires upon the innocent chUdren. For Peter G. Beidler die ghosts are real. But what are real ghosts? Beidler answers that question for James and his contemporary readers by tracing the documentation and investigation of ghostly phenomena throughout the nineteenth century, chiefly in the scientific activity of the Society for Psychical Research. Having sifted dirough several thousand ghost sightings, Beidler points to abundant paraUels between such odd material and features in James's story. But how does diis background and context settle the question of which way the story is to be read? What good is familiarity with this extratextual stuff when faced with interpreting the text? Beidler takes die quantity of paraUels to be more than suggestive; they are decisive: James intended his ghosts to be real and recognizable as such by his readers. The intentional faUacy is committed here in exemplary fashion. We are to understand the text by explaining it in terms of the autiior's intentions. These we find not by study of die text's own intentionality as a work of art, but by study of material outside the text, material which we have chosen. Since that Reviews413 material shows striking resemblances to features in die text, dien we insist die audior intended to use it in such a way as to give meaning to the text. Alas, die audior's intention is a fiction ofliterary study. NotJames but Beidler makes die paraUel between extratextual material and text intentional. Beidler moves from rhetorical suggestion to conclusive conviction: "we must also be impressed widi how much the fictional The Turn oftL· Screw owes to die motifs its author could have learned by reading this and odier ghost narratives" (p. 75). He begs the question, however, since simüarity is not demonstration. "The task I set for myself was to show how The Turn oftL· Screw, fiction though it is, derives from factual traditions about ghosts and demons. We cannot fuUy understand James's story widiout knowing some of the reported cases upon which he based it" (p. 239). This is a beautiful expression of the faUacy of source, for fiction, wherever it may take its sources, has it own creative powers which make the work of art understandable in its own terms. Beidler is also conscientiously engaged in committing the fallacy of the single determinant: namely, diat discovery ofone line ofsource material, ifsufficiently parallel, suffices as clue to the fictional work. But by looking into the tradition of ghostìy fiction, into die popular press, and into the psyches of HenryJames and famUy, we can come up with materials as suggestive as those from the psychical research movement. By looking for various kinds of sources for a literary work we find them. But having found different kinds of sources we prove nothing. Their very variety mUitates against decisive interpretation of die work in terms of derivation. James's own...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 412-413
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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