Henry James - The Essayist Behind the Novelist

Author: Chen, Shudong
Year:2003
Pages:280
ISBN:0-7734-6768-8
978-0-7734-6768-2
Price:199.95
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.

Reviews

“…Chen’s attention to the centrality of the essay to a theory of Henry James’s oeuvre reveals something fundamental about James. In addition, it has the twin merits of making a great deal of sense and being very useful…. It is through the essay, that James engages life as directly as he does anywhere else in his writing. Chen, it seems to me, gets it right when he argues that the essay and James are ‘mutually illuminating.’ For not only does James’s particular use of the essay enable him to articulate and examine ideas, but his adaptation elsewhere of writing strategies that define the essay enables him to represent and evaluate himself. It also offers a model for theorizing James’s fictional characters.” – Greg W. Zacharias, Center for Henry James Studies, Creighton University

Table of Contents

Table of contents (main headings):
Preface; Introduction
1. James as an Essayist: An Overview
2. The Constituents of the Essay
3. The Portrait of James as an Essayist through his Essays
4. The Portrait of James as an Essayist through his Prefaces
5. The Portrait of James as an Essayist through his Novels (The Portrait of a Lady; What Maisie Knew; The Bostonians; The Golden Bowl)
Bibliography; Index