They will come no more,
The old men with beautiful manners. . . .
Ezra Pound, "Moeurs Contemporaines" (1919)
. . .the gentleman Henry, dernier cri James.
James Joyce, Ulysses 10.2016
At the turn of the century, Henry James certainly seemed as Pound and Joyce describe, each in their own way: the supreme arbiter of the novel and of the afternoon tea. James' very considerable work has had an enormous purchase upon the literary and critical imagination. To this end, we will examine diverse aspects of the Jamesian oeuvre: the aesthetic "dicta" of the Prefaces; the epistemological uncertainty of "consciousness" or "the felt life" as the privileged center of the novel-his "super subtle fry," according to Ralph Ellison; his fine estimations in the novels of moral cost and consequence; his ambivalence towards the country of his origin and his return in The American Scene (1904-05); his often curious relation to his family, in particular, his significant and often contentious relationship with his brother William James, author of Principles of Psychology (1890) and an explorer of consciousness in his own right, and his protective relationship towards his invalided sister Alice, in whose conversation and in whose diary James's own perspicacity is echoed; finally, his predilection for subtly subversive readings of gender, both male and female, and the complicated moral and political economies of desire Lastly we will look at two very recent (re)configurations of James in Colm Toíbin's The Master and Alan Hollingsworth's The Line of Beauty, his sharply observant novel of gay life in 1980's London.
4 short responses to each of the James novels; 1 longer critical essay of 10-12 pages due at the end of the semester