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This essay argues for the importance of 'the auditive intelligence' in the work of Henry James, a phrase derived from his revised essay on the French actor Benoit-Constant Coquelin (1915). Such intelligence emerges in opposition to various, historically situated, impediments: the lack of any 'serious study' of tone, the false choice between saying and doing, the theatrical vogue for pictorialism, and the priority of the eye over the ear. The 'auditive intelligence' makes it possible to conceive of tone as in itself a complete drama, a revelatory instant where previously concealed relations suddenly adopt an emphatic salience. This kind of intelligence is evident in James fictional writings, in particular The Portrait of a Lady and The Golden Bowl.