Download Henry James: A Literary Life by Kenneth Graham (auth.) PDF

By Kenneth Graham (auth.)

This complete account of the writing lifetime of Henry James goals at supplying a serious review of all his very important writings, firmly set in contexts: that of James's functional profession as a novelist in the United States, England, and Europe; and that of the literary and highbrow weather of his time. by way of tracing the complicated improvement of his profession below such headings as 'American and Romantic', 'Victorian and Realist', 'Crisis and scan' and 'Master and Modernist', it offers a dynamic portrait, either authentic and interpretative, of 1 of the best and such a lot prolific novelists within the language, whose many-sided profession started throughout Thackeray and Dickens, and ended via ushering within the writings of Joyce and Woolf.

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1s In the play of tones in that passage, its subtle exaggerations and its archly Johnsonian pomposities ('superb undulations'), we have a fine example of the manner in which james's mental debate must have been conducted - and a foretaste of how, in character, imagery, and stylistic nuances, it was going to be conducted in the fiction to come. '19 Right through the series of travel-sketches (mostly of North-Eastern scenes, like Saratoga and Rhode Island) which he began writing for the Nation in 1870 - partly to make money, and partly to do his imaginative best by the American scene - there sounds out the involved doubleness of his response.

James's famous 'complaint' against (or on behalf of) Hawthorne - that Hawthorne's America provided none of the complex texture of social manners necessary to most novelists - is in fact a strong testimony to James's own quite un-Hawthornean, but Stendhalian and romantic, belief that character could be extended and re-made by using the varying roles that social manners, especially European social manners, made possible. From Emerson, then, James might be seen as drawing some of his belief in the individual consciousness as the focus and as the energy of reality; but from the tradition of Diderot and Stendhal, and from the variable novelistic examples of Thackeray, Balzac, Turgenev, George Sand, and George Eliot (though, significantly, not consciously from Jane Austen) he drew his conviction that the individual consciousness cannot develop free of the social medium in which it exists and through which it moves wearing many masks and in many shifting postures of relationship.

He responded with a long-saved-up ecstasy to Italy, and especially Rome: the buildings, the light, the crowded squares and cafes, the paintings (Veronese, Bellini, Tintoretto), the human faces and types. Rather less provided than in England with introductions in high places, he also now encountered the ordinary Americans abroad, and was scathing: the Englishmen I have met not only kill, but bury in unfathomable depths, the Americans I have met, A set of people less framed to provoke national self-complacency than the latter it would be hard to imagine.

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