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BOOK REVIEWS James: Stage & Screen John R. Bradley, ed. Henry James on Stage and Screen. London: Palgrave, 2000. xi + 264 pp. $59.95 PERHAPS John R. Bradley, the editor οι Henry James on Stage and Screen, was inspired by his subject to adopt a dramatist's stance—show rather than tell—towards his redacting duties. Perhaps that explains why Bradley fails to include an introduction to the fifteen collected monographs, the vast majority of which concern James on screen, though James himself can seem all exposition and no drama. If James was a notable failure as a dramatist, he has achieved belated success as a writer whose works have been adapted into artsy films. The recurring question taken up in these essays is whether James's works serve as a sacred or a profane fount from which present-day filmmakers have drawn. Whatever their answer, these Jamesians have themselves tapped the freshet of recent films to keep their own interest in James and his multimedia legacy invigorated. "Henry James on Stage: 'That Sole Intensity which the Theatre can Produce,'" by Sheldon M. Novick, is the only essay in the collection devoted exclusively to James on stage. In a well-written essay, Novick attempts to confute the "conventional wisdom" on the subject of James's theatrical career—originated by Leon Edel—which maintains that the signal failure of Guy Domville traumatized the stage-frightened James. Eschewing Edel's psychoanalytic approach, Novick sensibly privileges the "manifest" over the "latent" evidence when assessing the effect of this dramatic failure upon James. Novick concludes that James "was visibly relieved when his career in the theatre ended." "'The Master's Voice': Henry James and Opera" by Michael Halliwell is also nicely written , but, as the title forecasts, lacks a specific focus and purpose. The essay reads like an introduction or primer to the subject, which could simply mean that Halliwell has shrewdly gauged the knowledge of his audience. Philip Home's "Henry James: Varieties of Cinematic Experience," serves as a serendipitous introduction to the essays that follow, panning back and encompassing the "big picture" in all its variety. It is also one of the best essays in the collection. Home discusses three "rough categories " or kinds of film adaptations of James: 1) "'Faithful' Adaptations?"; 2) "Free Variations," and; 3) "'Jamesian' Films." Perceptive in ruminating upon what constitutes a "faithful adaptation," Home praises such 491 ELT 45 : 4 2002 productions as William Wyler's The Heiress, Peter Bogdanovich's Daisy Miller, and the various BBC adaptations directed by James Cellan Jones. Peter Swaab's "The End of Embroidery: from Washington Square to The Heiress" stitches the connection between James's 1880 novella and the 1949 film directed by William Wyler. Like Home and many of the other contributors, Swaab admires The Heiress, though much ofthe essay involves delineating between the novel and the film. "The central distinction," claims Swaab, "is that James's narrator has his closest affinity with Dr Sloper, while the point ofview ofthe film"—as the altered title would suggest—"is closest to Catherine." "Ceremonies of Innocence: Men, Boys and Women in The Turn ofthe Screw" by Michelle Deutsch sounds the key differences between James's novella and Britten's opera. A central difference, claims Deutsch, is that in the opera the ghosts "clearly exist outside the governess's head." Additionally , Quint plays a more dominant, less ambiguous role, the "homoerotic element [being] much stronger in Britten's work." In contrast, the women in the opera, the governess and Miss Jessel, are somewhat diluted , priggish characters—anything but divas—compared to their Jamesian counterparts. The opera, then, resolves, or simply glosses over, many of the haunting ambiguities of James's notoriously open-ended opus. "Frank and Jim Go Boating: Henry James and the French New Wave" by David Van Leer assesses the nature of French New Wave director Jacques Rivette's appropriation of two of James's works, "The Romance of Certain Old Clothes" and The Other House, in the making of his Celine et Julie vont en bateau (1974). Van Leer seems to be more interested in Rivette than in James and the "admittedly minor" stories which infuse Rivette's film. Of course...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 491-495
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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