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Cynthia Ozick’s “Dictation” imagines an alternate history in which Theodora Bosanquet undermines Henry James’s authority over “The Jolly Corner.” Some critics suggest James’s tale is a psychological allegory about one man defining himself. In “Dictation,” the central role of the medium – typist and spiritualist – suggests both consciousness and authorship are less well-defined. The fictional James’s text and Spencer Brydon’s apparition may be products of a powerful mind or of an external force, whether the textual mode of production or some occult power. Seen in this light, James speaks to contemporary anxieties about individual autonomy within inescapable technological and cultural forces.