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

the rhetoric of the whole" (p. 12). "The story's 'kinetic elements'—dialogue, acts, and events, and cumulative patterns of events" (p. 180)—all contribute to shaping characters, including those who change and those who are fixed, as well as those placed in antithesis and apposition. This chapter is helpful especially in warning the reader that James's conception of character as "picture" is a misleading term, implying neither flatness nor stillness in the fictional subject, as it does in a painting. The author's assessment of James's reticence regarding sexual encounter is also illuminating and rather unique: "The reason lovers seldom ever quite get together is that their unity would diffuse their characters and cause them to fade in interest" (p. 193). While touching on the "woman question" wherever pertinent, this book is more concerned with James's work as an "art, [that] is not lesser than, nor subordinate to, social issues" (p. 4). While of considerable interest to the specialist, particularly to the student of James's novellas, it is also helpful to students of fiction in general. Sister Corona Sharp Brescia College Sergio Perosa. Henry James and the Experimental Novel. Charlottesville : Univ. Press of Virginia, 1978. 216 pp. $11.95. American literature has been eagerly translated and studied in Italy since the late twenties , both by creative writers like the novelists Pavese and Vittorini (engaging critics of our literature) and scholars like Emilio Cecchi and Mario Praz. Italian universities now have chairs of American as well as English literature. Perosa, who is professor at the University of Venice, has published (1965) in English translation a book, a good one, on Scott Fitzgerald; is the author of Le Vie della Narrativa Americana (1966); and has translated into Italian The Sacred Fount (1963). His present monograph on James, which "grows out of an interest of many years," is written in excellent idiomatic English, but it bears the marks of its European origin in two ways: first, the display, impressive, even prodigal, that its author has kept abreast of the books cji James which have prolifically appeared from American graduate schools and university presses in the fifties and sixties; and, second, the frequent, and relevant, quotations (in French) from apposite French creative critics, the de Goncourts, Zola, Sartre, and Camus. Perosa's book is essentially not criticism (the value-judgments are few and are chiefly cited from others, whose opinions fill the footnotes); it is "literary history," a term which the author 107 several times claims as his genre but does not define. By it he means approximately the history of literature, or of an author, as art, as aesthetics, as structure and style. Biography and social history and "ideas" are excluded; and while "themes" are admitted, they are admitted only as motifs in the art-work, not as separate parts. The book bears some evidence of being a collection of separate studies, connected by the word and the theme experimental. One rather isolated chapter, "The Whole FamiIy and the Lonely Author," discusses at overlength James ' s strange participation, at his own request, in a collaborative novel that serially ran for a year (1906-07—that is, a year after the completion of his trilogy of mature masterworks) in Harper's Bazaar—a collaboration in which his fellows were such as John Kendrick Bangs, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, and Henry Van Dyke. James's chapter, twice as long as any other and written in his richest late manner, effectively brought the action of the novel to a standstill. This venture, however, was scarcely experimental, save as a last, and misguided, attempt to reach a popular audience. The substance of the book is divided into two parts, the first of which deals with the twenty-year period (1881-1902) between The Portrait of a Lady and The Wings of the Dove; and this period in turn is bisected by James's dramatic years (1889-95). His first experiment, partly inspired by Zola, was to attempt the naturalistic novel (in contrast to his earlier realism in the vein of George Eliot), and he explored new themes, like the proto-lesbianism of Olive Chancellor and the London anarchism of The Princess Casamassima. After...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 107-110
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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.