This article claims that over the course of his career Henry James developed a coherent and well-considered theory of the state, which he articulates most directly in The American Scene (1907). It links James's remarkably subtle and nuanced registry of emotions and personal interactions–long taken to indicate an apolitical aestheticism–to his engagement with pressing political and social questions, such as the ongoing debate about "bigness" which preoccupied many of the leading intellectuals of his day. The American Scene, for all its many idiosyncrasies and its intensely personal aspect, provides an acute theoretical analysis of the limitations and rewards of "democratic institutions" and offers a vision of a democratic state linked through a wide range of collective forms to the daily lives of its citizenry.


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pp. 162-179
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