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Homosexual eros, according to an important strand of queer theory, undermines one's assumption that human life is inalienably social in character. Henry James's work anticipates such an "anti-social" claim. The Middle Years recapitulates James's sense of the value of radical detachment from immersion in social life and social norms. In "The Middle Years," "The Pupil," and "The Aspern Papers," James portrays homosexual desire's responses to an imperialism that might be inherent in social being. James's portrayal suggests that it is impossible to surmount finitude and mortality by any means available to society, love, or art.