Abstract

Abstract:

Secularism is now generally understood as a Protestant regime that sorts citizens into the credulous and the enlightened, privatizing religion to justify its control of a supposedly rational political sphere. The Jamesian novel, with its valorization of inwardness, has long been seen as pushing this secular agenda. But The Bostonians challenges that view. The novel refuses to sort credulity from enlightened conviction. Read with James's essays "The Art of Fiction" and "Is There a Life After Death?," The Bostonians suggests that James sees the novelist as a magician more than a high priest, and the novel as entertainment more than religion.

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