Henry James's understanding of the perilous consequences of telling of the situation of another seem salient to the clinical enterprise. This essay examines James's late story "The Bench of Desolation" to appreciate the narrative strategies adopted in its telling. The narrator of this story gradually nears the suffering protagonist and shifts from mockery to seeming compassion in the presentation of his plight. By effacing himself, or making himself transparent, the narrator exposes the characters directly to the reader, bringing the reader into intimate contact with the characters. These observations have evident clinical resonance. Other works James read or wrote at the time he wrote this story help us to understand what might have been on his mind during the creation of this work. The textual recognition that occurs in this story is given as a model for the mutual recognition possible in the clinical setting.


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pp. 412-438
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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