Henry James and the Father Question by Andrew Taylor

By Andrew Taylor

The highbrow courting among Henry James and his father proved to be an influential source for the novelist. Andrew Taylor examines the character of either men's engagement with autobiographical options, problems with gender reform, and the language of faith. He argues for a interpreting of Henry James that's expert through an understanding of paternal inheritance. in the course of the research of quite a lot of novels and texts, he demonstrates how James Senior's discussion together with his contemporaries, corresponding to Emerson and Whitman, anticipates James's personal theories of fiction and selfhood.

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By Andrew Taylor

The highbrow courting among Henry James and his father proved to be an influential source for the novelist. Andrew Taylor examines the character of either men's engagement with autobiographical options, problems with gender reform, and the language of faith. He argues for a interpreting of Henry James that's expert through an understanding of paternal inheritance. in the course of the research of quite a lot of novels and texts, he demonstrates how James Senior's discussion together with his contemporaries, corresponding to Emerson and Whitman, anticipates James's personal theories of fiction and selfhood.

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Lambert Strether’s embrace of this unfamiliar world and his unintentional succumbing to vulnerability and fallibility enables him to approach the kind of cosmopolitan sensibility which results in the manifestation neither of a Rooseveltian American nationalism nor of a blinkered embrace of the Old World. This book argues for a reassessment of Henry James Senior and his relationship with the intellectual culture of nineteenth-century America. Typically viewed as an eccentric tirelessly advocating a theological system for a rapidly secularising society, he is considered here both in his own right as a figure engaged with many of the preoccupations of his time and as a complex influence on his novelist son.

Where do they hide themselves away? ’ (334). ’ The diarist’s recapturing of the image of his lost love becomes a physical as much as a mental act, one in which his senses strain to be released from the confines of the present: ‘The place was perfectly empty – that is, it was filled with her. I closed my eyes and listened; I could almost hear the rustle of her dress on the gravel’ (335). This emergence of unexpected memories is encouraged by his encounters with the daughter of the woman he had once loved and with that daughter’s suitor, a man who seems to the diarist to be so perfectly the embodiment of his earlier self that he is led to declare with amazement 24 Autobiography and the writing of significance 25 that ‘the analogy is complete’ (340).

It is easy to understand the attraction of a passage like this to Renan’s reviewer. The language is pure Jamesian – indeed one might argue that it is James’s language through virtue of his translation. ‘Sacred rites’, ‘trembling vibrations’, ‘infinite depths’, all are phrases indicative of both the delicacies and extremes of sensibility, of the presence of the unexpected and the uncanny. The period of Renan’s religious orthodoxy may be past, but it lingers as a mode of thought which cannot be entirely banished.

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