About the author: Dr. Shudong Chen received his PhD in English from the University of Kansas. He is currently Assistant Professor of Humanities at Johnson County Community College, Kansas. He has published articles in several journals.2003 0-7734-6768-8
This study explores the essay as ‘genre’ and its relation to other genres, most significantly the novel, with a focus on Henry James. For theoretical dimensions, it compares Lukacs’s and Adorno’s critical theories on the essay; for historical contexts, it discusses James’s contemporary critics, including Arnold, Carlyle, Ruskin, Newman, Mill, Macauley, Pater, St. Beuve, and Emerson. It examines the importance of James’s essays and explains how the overlooked critical spirit inherent in them motivated his novelistic career. It argues that his essays reveal dialectically conflicting and complementary relationships between the genre of the essay and that of the novel and that these relationships account for various conflicting perceptions of James.