In this Book

The Ohio State University Press
buy this book Buy This Book in Print
summary
Do the surfaces matter? In this provocative book, A Superficial Reading of Henry James: Preoccupations with the Material World, Thomas J. Otten demonstrates that surfaces matter profoundly. Taking seriously the accessories of Henry James’s fiction—the china and bric-a-brac, the antique cabinets and tapestries, the ribbons and hats—this book argues that James’s famous ambiguity is a material state, an indeterminate zone where the difference between essence and ornament disappears. Ranging between fictions as well-known as The Portrait of a Lady (whose heroine is celebrated for her psychological complexity) and ones as under-studied as “Rose-Agathe” (whose heroine is a hairdresser’s manikin), Otten suggests that the distinction between what counts as thematic depth and what counts as physical surface is, for James, impossible to maintain. Achieving a superficial reading of Henry James means demonstrating the persistence of the material within the novelist’s most conceptual formations of meaning—an argument with important consequences for literary theory, as Otten shows in his concluding chapters. Eloquently written and guided by a perverse love for the superfluous detail, this book makes an important contribution to a fast-growing area of the humanities, one newly committed to the serious study of material culture, the concrete experiences of everyday life, and the history of the physical senses.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover, Dedication
  2. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. Table of Contents
  2. p. vii
  3. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
  2. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. List of Illustrations
  2. p. ix
  3. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xi-xii
  3. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. A Note on Quotations
  2. p. xiii
  3. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. Introduction
  2. pp. xv-xxiv
  3. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. Part 1. Turning to Matter in Henry James
  2. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. 1. Revolving Heroines
  2. pp. 3-10
  3. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. 2. Culture of Faulty Parallels
  2. pp. 11-36
  3. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. Part 2. Practical Aesthetics
  2. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. 3. The Properties of Touch
  2. pp. 39-59
  3. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. 4. The Reproduction of Painting
  2. pp. 60-85
  3. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. 5. Bodies, Papers, and Persons
  2. pp. 86-109
  3. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. 6. Adulterous Matter
  2. pp. 110-132
  3. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. Part 3. The Matter of Literary Criticism
  2. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. 7. Literary Studies as Sublimated Physicality
  2. pp. 135-153
  3. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. 8. The Color of Air: New Materialism
  2. pp. 154-166
  3. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. Notes
  2. pp. 167-191
  3. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. Index
  2. pp. 193-197
  3. open access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents

Additional Information

ISBN
9780814272572
Related ISBN
9780814210260
MARC Record
OCLC
1229912883
Pages
197
Launched on MUSE
2021-01-10
Language
English
Open Access
Yes
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.