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  • 6 Henry James
  • Sarah B. Daugherty

The topic of this year's special issue of the Henry James Review, "Reading James," suggests the author's role in shaping the canons of literary study and, conversely, the ways in which various modes of criticism have enhanced our understanding of the author and his fiction. A new book by J. Hillis Miller, dedicated to the memory of Jacques Derrida, fulfills the potential of poststructuralism by prioritizing richly responsible reading over the mere illustration of theory. Rob Davidson's study of James and Howells as critics exemplifies the enduring value of historical scholarship as it illuminates cultural contexts. In our own time James's presence in the classroom is signaled by a collection of essays on the teaching of Daisy Miller and The Turn of the Screw, still the most popular texts in undergraduate courses.

i Bibliographical and Biographical Studies

Glen MacLeod's "The James Family and the Boston Athenaeum: A Bibliography" (RALS 29 [2003–04]: 89–140) lists books borrowed in the name of Henry James Sr. from 1864 through 1873. William and Henry James, and probably Alice as well, enjoyed the privileges reserved for members and often discussed their reading with each other.

In "Henry James Cartoons" (HJR 26: 273–81) Greg Zacharias examines an illustrated manuscript owned by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, "An Old Type in a New Light." Though the cover attributes it to James, the booklet was probably the work of a person or group in the household of Sarah Butler Wister. The humor reveals "Mrs. Wister's willingness to open the question of James's marriage and James's jocular readiness to close it" by citing other attachments. [End Page 127]

ii Sources, Influences, Parallel Studies

Philip Horne's "Henry James among the Poets" (HJR 26: 68–81) discusses the author's allusions to poetry, especially to that of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and Tennyson. The most resonant examples concern the process of remembering and "the oblivion which hovers in the margin of all that is thought and said."

In "Teacups and Love Letters: Constance Fenimore Woolson and Henry James" (HJR 26: 82–98) Victoria Coulson contrasts the representational strategies of the two writers, drawing parallels between the tea ceremony and the realist narrative. Whereas James converts teacups into symbols, thus rejecting domesticity, Woolson exploits their banality while flirting with covert meaning.

In "The Figure in the Carpet of 'Honeysuckle Cottage': P. G. Wode-house and Henry James" (HJR 26: 99–104) Marijane R. Davis Wernsman notes that Wodehouse's tale is a comic parody of The Turn of the Screw. Haunted by a female ghost, its protagonist shares James's "congenital horror of matrimony."

Several essays treat James as a progenitor of modern gay literature. "Gore Vidal, Henry James: Turning Another Jolly Corner" by C. R. Resetarits (JGS 14: 61–64) cites parallels between "The Jolly Corner" and Vidal's memoir Palimpsest. Both texts represent an older man looking back on an alternative self and a woman who serves as a catalyst for the recognition of loss. In "Writing the Gay '80s with Henry James: David Leavitt's A Place I've Never Been and Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty" (HJR 26: 282–92) Julie Rivkin explains how the title story of Leavitt's collection revises "The Beast in the Jungle," while Hollinghurst's novel invokes "The Spoils of Poynton" in showing that "the laws of property dominate the principles of aesthetic appreciation." The representation of AIDS in Leavitt's and Hollinghurst's narratives lends poignancy to the Jamesian theme of "Live all you can." Denis Flannery's "The Powers of Apostrophe and the Boundaries of Mourning: Henry James, Alan Hollinghurst, and Toby Litt" (HJR 26: 293–305) deals with The Line of Beauty and Litt's Ghost Story, a novel paying "twisted and traumatic homage" to The Turn of the Screw. Apostrophe confers life [End Page 128] on dead or absent figures while underscoring the painful fictionality of such rhetoric.

iii Critical Books and Collections

J. Hillis Miller's Literature as Conduct: Speech Acts in Henry James (Fordham) draws on the theories of J. L. Austin as modified by Derrida and other deconstructive analysts...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2125
Print ISSN
0065-9142
Pages
pp. 127-139
Launched on MUSE
2007-09-19
Open Access
No
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