The Portrait of a Lady exploded the domestic novel, converted it into the more fluid form open to the modern novel, made way, in effect, for Joyce and Stein. If James was no modern in being unable to conceive that there might be other options open to Isabel ( Quentin Anderson has suggested, for instance, that she might have become an artist), The Portrait of a Lady still offered something new to the novel. Indeed, its strength, rather than its failing (as Anderson—and we too- would have it) may curiously reside in James's narrow, conventional vision of women. For his limited vision was not simple; if he wanted to trap Isabel, he wanted as well to free her. It is the tension in the novel, which comes from the struggle between his (and her) desire for confinement and his (her) move to freedom that creates the explosive architecture of The Portrait. It might be said too, that the new woman led James on a new path to modernism, as he unsystematically made the marriage novel—like the marrying world about him—burst its mold to tell her tale.


NOTES
1
See, for example, Donald Stone, Novelists in a Changing World ( Cambridge, Mass., 1972), pp. 219-220.
2
The works referred to are Stephen Pearl Andrews, Horace Greeley, and Henry James, Sr., Love, Marriage, and Divorce, and the Sovereignty of the Individual ( Boston, 1883) and Henry James, Sr., "The Woman Thou Gavest with Me," Atlantic Monthly, XXV ( Jan., 1870), 66-72; " Is Marriage Holy?" Atlantic Monthly, XXV ( March, 1870); and " The Logic of Marriage and Murder," Atlantic Monthly, XXV ( June, 1870).
3
Henry James, Sr., "Is Marriage Holy?" p. 366.
4
Ibid., p. 362.
5
Henry James, Sr.'s letter "To the Editor of the New York Observer, printed in the New York Tribune on November 13, 1852, included in the Andrews, Greeley, and James volume, Love, Marriage, and Divorce, and the Sovereignty of the Individual, p. 24.
6
Ibid., p. 10.
7
Ibid., p. 74.
8
Ibid.
9
James alluded directly to the scandal between the famous minister Henry Ward Beecher and Elizabeth Richards Tilton in the December, 1872, letter which he wrote to one "H.Y.R" "H.Y.R" obliged by writing to Andrews and sending James's letter; Andrews printed both letters in Woodhull & Claflin's Weekly, the same publication which had announced Beecher's sexual promiscuity with his parishioner. These later papers are included in the 1883 edition of Love, Marriage, and Divorce, and the Sovereignty of the Individual. While the Atlantic papers appear a bit too early to connect themselves directly to the published scandal, the Beecher-Tilton affair was hearsay in New York prior to Mrs. Tilton's disclosure ( July, 1870) to her husband of her adultery. It may be that " Is Marriage Holy?" anticipates the public notice of the affair.
10
Henry James, Sr., "Is Marriage Holy?" p. 362.
11
Ibid., p. 366.
12
Henry James, Sr., "The Woman Thou Gavest with Me," p. 71.
13
Percy Lubbock, ed., Henry James, Letters ( New York, 1955), 1, 27.
14
Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady, ed. R. P. Blackmur ( New York, 1961), p. 256. Hereafter all references to The Portrait will cite this edition and will appear in the text.
15
F. 0. Matthiessen, Henry James: The Major Phase ( New York, 1947), p. 182.
16
William Bysshe Stein, " The Portrait of a Lady: Vis Inertiae," Western Humanities Review, XIII ( Spring, 1959), 177.
17
Ibid., p. 181.
18
It may be that "pushing back her skirts" means "pushing them down." At any rate, Isabel's intentions are the same. She chooses chastity. I am grateful to Professor Edwin Cady of the journal American Literature for this second reading.
19
Richard Chase, The American Novel and Its Tradition ( Garden City. N.Y., 1957), p. 121.

-117-

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Isabel Archer
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Major Literary Characters *
  • Isabel Archer *
  • Contents *
  • The Analysis of Character Harold Bloom ix
  • Editor's Note xv
  • Introduction 1
  • Critical Extracts 5
  • Henry James 5
  • Horace E. Scudder 8
  • Margaret Oliphant 10
  • Henry James 15
  • Cornelia Pulsifer Kelley 19
  • Yvor Winters 23
  • Edward Sackville West 24
  • Graham Greene 28
  • F. R. Leavis 32
  • Richard Chase 37
  • William H. Gass 41
  • Richard Poirier 45
  • Leon Edel 51
  • Dorothea Krook 57
  • Laurence Bedwell Holland 60
  • Manfred Mackenzie 64
  • Lisa Appignanesi 72
  • Ronald Wallace 76
  • Peter Jones 80
  • Critical Essays 91
  • Tony Tanner the Fearful Self 91
  • Annette Niemtzow Marriage and the New Woman in the Portrait of a Lady 104
  • Notes 117
  • Nina Baym Revision and Thematic Change in the Portrait of a Lady 119
  • Notes 129
  • Zephyra Porat Transcendental Idealism and Tragic Realism in the Portrait of a Lady 131
  • Notes 149
  • Jonathan Freedman James, Pater, and the Dreaming of Aestheticism 152
  • Notes 163
  • Stephanie A. Smith the Delicate Organisms and Theoretic Tricks of Henry James 164
  • Notes 179
  • William Veeder the Feminine Orphan and the Emergent Master 181
  • Notes 199
  • Contributors 203
  • Bibliography 205
  • Acknowledgments 211
  • Index 213
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