In the famous "Ozymandias letter" to W.D. Howells from 1915, James complained about the lack of "critical attention" paid to his New York Edition. The same year, in the just as famous "Boon letter" to Wells, James used the concept of attention to describe his notion of fictional form: "The fine thing about the fictional form to me is that it opens such widely different windows of attention." This article discusses and contextualizes the problem of attention in James's prefaces and late fiction. It is proposed that contemporary conceptions of attention in psychology, aesthetics, and cultural criticism, e.g., William James's first formulation of the psychology of attentiveness, had a significant impact on the way James imagined both fictional form and his readers.


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pp. 14-20
Launched on MUSE
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