Henry James and the Dramatic Analogy: A Study of the Major Novels of the Middle Period

Henry James and the Dramatic Analogy: A Study of the Major Novels of the Middle Period

Henry James and the Dramatic Analogy: A Study of the Major Novels of the Middle Period

Henry James and the Dramatic Analogy: A Study of the Major Novels of the Middle Period

Excerpt

In a craftsman-to-craftsman statement in a letter to Paul Bourget, Henry James remarked that "questions of art and form . . . interest me deeply--really much more than any other; and so, not less, do they interest you: yet, though they frequently come up between us . . . I nowadays never seem to see you long enough at once to thresh them comfortably out with you." Just four years later, on September 9, 1902, James reiterated his interest in the problems of the writer's craft in a note to his Rye neighbor Ford Madox Ford: "Nothing. . . is ever more interesting to me than the consideration, with those who care to see, or want to, of these bottomless questions of How, and Why and Whence and What . . . in connection with the mystery of one's Craft." It is with this Henry James, absorbed in the novel with the dedicated interest of a painstaking maker, that this book is concerned. It discusses questions of How and Why and Whence and What with those who, like Bourget and Ford, are no less interested in such questions than was James himself.

Henry James and the Dramatic Analogy is a study of James's theory of the dramatic novel and of the application of that theory in an analysis and evaluation of four major novels of his middle period: The Spoils of Poynton, What Maisie Knew, The Awkward Age, and The Sacred Fount. The first chapter suggests how the term dramatic novel raises a problem in literary theory which must be solved if James's middle-- and late--novels are adequately to be appreciated. Subse-

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