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  • 6 Henry James
  • Sarah B. Daugherty

The year's work on James reflects recent trends while offering the prospect of further scholarly and critical studies. As we await the publication of the complete letters, a new volume of James's correspondence with younger men confirms his playful homoeroticism and his literary professionalism: the "queer monster" is indeed "the artist." Also welcome are contributions by historians of British culture, notably Clair Hughes and Pamela Thurschwell. Another development is increased attention to James's short fiction, especially previously neglected later tales. An ambitious book by Donatella Izzo advances a feminist and Foucauldian critique of these narratives, while a festschrift from Purdue in memory of the distinguished James scholar William T. Stafford highlights the diversity of the stories and their accessibility to general readers. Moral and ethical critics (now at least as numerous as poststructuralist skeptics) include James Duban, whose study focuses on the author's response to his father's theology, and contributors to an HJR special issue on "James and the Sacred."

i Editions, Letters, Biographical Studies

Selected Tales, ed. John Lyon (Penguin), anthologizes 19 stories, including some rediscovered texts ("The Pension Beaurepas," "Julia Bride") as well as the perennial favorites. Lyon's introduction presents the tales as jokes at the expense of analysts obsessive in their pursuit of meaning. Hortense Calisher's preface to The Turn of the Screw & In the Cage (Modern Library) also emphasizes James's humor and generic range: "What to say of the writer who can float a surreal balloon across the haunted fields of Bly, only to warm us up at Crockers' emporium?" [End Page 121]

A book designed for participants in Britain's Open University is The Nineteenth-Century Novel: Identities, ed. Dennis Walder (Routledge). Two chapters on The Portrait of a Lady and one on "The Art of Fiction" by Delia da Sousa Correa feature reading exercises along with discussions of political issues and literary contexts.

Dearly Beloved Friends: Henry James's Letters to Younger Men, ed. Susan E. Gunter and Steven H. Jobe (Michigan), complements Gunter's collection of letters to women (see AmLS 1999, p. 124). This volume contains 166 letters (95 of them previously unpublished) to Hendrik Andersen, Jocelyn Persse, Howard Sturgis, and Hugh Walpole. Though more often "adhesive" than erotic, the correspondence supports the view that James allowed himself increased sexual frankness after the turn of the century. Wisely, the editors underscore the professional advice offered to—and resisted by—his supposed disciples. "Stop your multiplication of unsaleable nakednesses for a while," he urged Andersen, in favor of "the vendible, the placeable small thing." The letters also express James's anxieties over the affairs of Edith Wharton, John Addington Symonds, and other contemporaries.

Gunter's " 'You Will Fit the Tighter into My Embrace!': Henry James's Letters to Jocelyn Persse" (GLQ 7: 335–54) reprints and analyzes 13 letters more explicitly passionate than those to James's other correspondents. Yet James's rhetorical disregard for gender boundaries was checked by his literal reluctance to cross them. "I will send you any underclothing but female . . . !" he exclaimed to the young serviceman in 1914.

Quite conventional are the recently discovered social notes in Edward L. Tucker's "Three Henry James Letters" (ANQ 14, i: 24–26). The recipients are Lady Grace Baring, George Herbert Thring of the Society of Authors, and the sculptress Clare Frewen Sheridan.

James figures prominently in Pamela Thurschwell's Literature, Technology and Magical Thinking, 1880–1920 (Cambridge). This is an absorbing study of "real and fantasized connections between the occult world, innovative technologies of communication and intimate bonds between people" that in turn fostered "an expanding sense of sex and gender flexibility." Two chapters revise earlier essays. One treats James's homoerotic identifications with soldiers and national leaders (see AmLS 2000, pp. 108–09); the other links his interest in the telephone and the typewriter with his concern for intersubjectivity (see AmLS 1999, p. 125). Also revealing are chapters on the Society for Psychical Research, on the popular demonization of Oscar Wilde, and on the emergence of Freudian [End Page 122] psychoanalysis. "James's magical faith in the efficacy of his own consciousness is sometimes painful to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2125
Print ISSN
0065-9142
Pages
pp. 121-137
Launched on MUSE
2003-08-12
Open Access
No
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