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BOOK REVIEWS on 'the world of Henry James'": her readers can only hope that this is not a finale at all. Sheila Teahan ______________ Michigan State University James & Adolescence John R. Bradley. Henry James's Permanent Adolescence. New York: Palgrave , 2000. ix + 162 pp. $59.95 MANY STUDENTS of English literature would be interested in the publication of a full-scale study of the intricacies, the unspoken and unwritten rules of the politics of the literary subcultures—the small cliques of scholars specialised in Derridean or Foucauldian theory, the unstoppable Shakespeareans, the ever-expanding group of hardy Joyceans, and of devoted Jamesians. The list of these groups in itself would be interesting because it would help one to determine what makes a subject worthy ofendiese literary analysis. Perhaps it would also teach prospective literary scholars what jargon to adopt, which words to avoid, which books to quote from if one wanted to be accepted by one of those parties. Obviously, some of the groups move along similar lines. The Joyceans and Jamesians are comparable in many ways. Both have recently paid a great deal of attention to the genesis and publication history of the author's text and to the economics of the literary market. Indeed, Henry James and James Joyce seem to some extent to have constructed , with some weird gift of premonition, the kind of critics who would study their work as well as the kind of criticism their work would engender. Like Joyceans, Jamesians are endlessly discussing the author's intentions, the author's life. Only in James's case there is the added interest in the author's alleged homosexuality. The word "alleged" (however well-intended), it should perhaps be noted here, might very well propel me into the camp of the homophobic Jamesians, or, at best, the unconsciously homophobic Jamesians. Those who are puzzled by these last remarks may find the explanation in the first chapter of Bradley's book which bears the telling title "Critical Hostility." This offers a detailed overview of the positions scholars have recently taken vis-à -vis James's sexual orientation. Bradley himself tries to adopt a kind of middle position which he describes as "not blindly antagonistic to queer studies" yet refusing to deal with the question of whether or not James was sexually active. Bradley's inten217 ELT 45 : 2 2002 tion is to "enter into James's homosexual consciousness," to analyse his fiction in order to demonstrate the subtle ways in which he consistently dealt with same-sex attraction. In chapter 2, Bradley proceeds to define James's homosexuality. He uses Cyril Connolly's theory on narcissistic homosexuality which the latter called "the theory of permanent adolescence" as a starting point in order to explain how James, following the narcissistic pattern, fell in love with young men in a vain attempt to recover his lost youth. Here, and throughout the book, Bradley convincingly uses James's letters to illustrate or to reinforce his point. James's letters always produce a peculiar charm when one reads them. What I have personally been able to gather from the man's correspondence is that he was an unusually warm and affectionate personality, displaying a brash physicality, almost matching the lavishness of his style. In fact, his passionate discursive embraces conjure up the body language of the southern-European rather than that of (if I may indulge in stereotypes) the aloof Englishman or, indeed, the puritan American. Then again, one may compare his emotions and his need to express them to those exhibited by his contemporary Robert Louis Stevenson, who unashamedly wept in public. It is regrettable though that recent developments in Jamesian scholarship seem to coerce critics, like Bradley, to focus solely on James's relationship with men, entirely forgetting and excluding his equally warm if different exchanges with women. This exclusive male view equally applies to a long and extremely interesting endnote in which Bradley discusses the subject of narcissistic homosexuality and the gay man's fixation on younger boys, and in which he categorically rejects the suggestion that heterosexual authors have an equivalent cult of the marvellous girl. Women authors are left out of the picture. Yet childhood fiction...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 217-220
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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