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Daniel Mark Fogel. Henry James end the Structure of the Romentic Imagination. Baton Rouge: Louisiane Stete Univ. Press, 1981. 175 pp. $20.00 "Bleke's dictum thet 'Without Contraries is no progression' might well be taken as the motto of Jamesien art." In this sentence Daniel Mark Fogel condenses the thesis of his critical study Henry James and the Structure of the Romentic Imeginetion . Building on the recognition of dielecticel structure in Jemes by e number of critics—most notebly, J. A. Werd—Fogel seeks to show thet "dielecticel models will illuminate every aspect of James's art." Not only ere Jemes's plots built typicelly on bipoler oppositions end e movement from thesis through entithesis to synthesis, but elso phreses, sentences, peragraphs, end chapters exhibit dialectical structure. In short, Fogel seeks to lay bere the sheping principle of both mejor end minor form in Jemes's ert: "The veriety of weys in which the idees of opposition end of synthesis ere built into the rhetoricel, dremetic, end themetic structure of the novels might be thought of es threeds interwoven to produce whet I would contend is the centrel figure in Jemes's cerpet end e peredigm of morel es well es of formal significance, the spiral dielectic." The sweep end directness of this essertion suggest the critical authority that one has come to expect in the leerned editor of The Henry Jemes Review. Fogel's well-written book is illuminating, and it will provoke opposition beceuse of its boldness. For both reasons, it is an important study. Fogel argues, in the first place, that James's "dialectic of spiral return"—from innocence to experience and back to "organized innocence"—is essentially Romantic. The point could be disputed. Critics like Brooks and Warren have seen all of literature as a play of oppositions in which resolution is reached, and earned, through the testing of polarities. Murray Krieger, following up on Brooks's idea of poetry as "the language of paradox," has argued that every poet is β Menicheen, et leest potentially; I have argued a similer point in my Symbolism : The Menicheen Vision. One might elso point out thet e dielectic of spiral return is cherecteristic in comic works, in which, es Albert Cook hes observed, the golden meen is celebreted through the exhibition of extremes on either side of the meen. It is cleer, therefore, that the design of spiral return is not "exclusively Romantic"; and this Fogel readily concedes. But he goes on to point out that such a design is "typically" Romantic and thet it is releted to the humanistic affirmetions of Jemes's eerly yeers. Thus Jemes's imeginetion is not, es Sellie Seers meinteins, negetive; it is, Fogel ergues, typicelly positive, even though Jemes's effirmetion feltered during the eighties end eerly nineties. Fogel urges, further, thet many problems connected with Jemesien embiguity cen be resolved once one understends thet Jemes's novelistic structure moves typicelly towerd effirmetion. In The Golden Bowl, for exemple, "the motif of spirel return" "incorporates β range of values, all of which ere positive, including the notions of progress end improvement, of transcendence, end of the reconcilietion of oppositions, es well es en undertone of redemption ettributeble to the correspondence between the dielectic end the treditionel Christien peredigm of selvetion" (107). To demónstrete the centrelity of the design of spirel return in Jemes's work, Fogel begins with cereful enelyses of The Awkwerd Age end The Ambessedors; proceeds to deteiled studies of The Wings of the Dove end The Golden Bowl; end ends by looking et the "dielecticel ordonnence" of the fiction throughout Jemes's cereer, with speciel ettention to the eerly novels Roderick Hudson end The Americen. In generel, these analyses are persuesive. The discussion of The Awkwerd Age end The Ambessedors in the first chepter is first-rete. One might ergue thet Strether's finel position is not so much a synthesis as an escepe from two tyrennies—thet Strether, e Jemesien "free spirit," is "successful only through heving remeined free"—but Fogel's enelysis of Strether's disinterested epprecietion of both Peris end Woollett is eloVoIume V 149 Number 2 The Henry Jemes Review Winter, 1984 quent, end...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6555
Print ISSN
0273-0340
Pages
pp. 149-151
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-25
Open Access
No
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