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330 The Henry James Review those novels. (Woolf used the Literary Classics of America texts for The Europeans, Washington Square and The Bostonians.) Greg W. Zacharias Creighton University Lynda S. Boren. Eurydice Reclaimed: Language, Gender & Voice in Henry James. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1989.145 pp. $39.95 In a polyphonic, suggestive prose of her own, Lynda S. Boren sets forth to analyze that rich and poetic discourse which is the literary language of Henry James. It is her thesis that James's prose has musical components that connect with profound psychological and gender issues and express more than mere language, even in the intricate syntax of James, can. Indeed, Boren shows, the "voice" that emerges in the lyricism of his narratives may reflect, in intricate and fascinating ways, the submerged feminine Other, the Eurydice, of Henry James. James's prose is a performance, no question, and, delivered orally as it was by midMaisie , it is a performance on an operatic scale, with James as impresario of a mode of dialogue and subversion that, as Boren shows, replaces the conventional linearity of novelistic structure with a poetic, musical mode. Using the insights of Bakhtin, Lacan, and Julia Kristeva as well as French philosophers, and of Freud, Jung, and music theory, Boren investigates the implications of this peculiar poetic, weaving in the process her own allusive and delicate web of analysis. James's famous "indecipherability" stems in part from the "psychosexual" nature of his performance, Boren says, where meaning is so tightly bound to ' 'internal images of ... thought" "as to remain forever esoteric." Even the cadences of his fiction become meaningful in this view, having a psychological resonance and coalescing into an affective kind of poetic measure. Further, Boren says, citing James Guetti's Word-Music, a visual image repeated over and over again, in the manner of James, can become aural, so that we begin to hear it rather than see it. Thus its tenor is now transformed or denied into something else, music perhaps. As his readers well know, James makes use of sound (and its absence) directly and "strategically for dramatic purposes," as in Charlotte's silent scream at the end of The Golden Bowl or "the scarce audible pathetic wail" of Spencer Brydon's alter ego in "The Jolly Corner." These "preverbal" experiences are profoundly symbolic, iconic like music, and like music, untranslatable unless in the private language of the psyche. "Language must ultimately go back to that underworld of the unconscious," Boren reminds us, quoting Lacan, "where something other demands to be realized,' ' and language is born of lack and desire for what is absent, "the eternal search for the lost Eurydice." The "implications for gender identification" within Lacan's theory are "startling," Boren says, positing James's "eternal search for the lost Eurydice" as a psychic identification with the feminine and his novels as an Orphic search to reclaim her. Within this context, James's own authorial voice orchestrates a Bakhtinian dialogic, embedding voices that often conflict with or subvert his own and which he struggles to unify by "transforming the 'speech' into pure music." This "musical mode of discourse," Boren claims, is complexly entwined in James's late style with his aesthetics, his private sexual anxieties, and the relations of society and gender to language. Indeed, she says, the innovations and "the tensions of James's novelistic form derive from his attempt to make his style bear the burden of music and meaning simultaneously." Book Reviews 331 I am quoting Boren extensively because her argument is extremely subtle and interwoven—"You can't skip a word," as William complained to Henry about his style—and I am trying not to inflict the injustice of paraphrase on it. Moreover, her style of literary criticism offers in its unique weave, it seems to me, a very good example of a new form of literary criticism. This is one that is evolving on a fugal, dialogic structure as opposed—to continue the analogy with music—to the canon form in which a melody is imitated exactly and completely by successive entering voices. I would not hesitate to call Boren's argument a prime example of the way...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6555
Print ISSN
0273-0340
Pages
pp. 330-331
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-25
Open Access
No
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