The Jamesian mode of writing, it has been claimed, actively works against an understanding of the way truth, history and power circulate in his texts. In this collection of essays, leading scholars of James analyse the strategies James used to address these crucial issues. Enacting History in Henry James claims that, because the type of knowledge available in James's fiction is never of a cognitive kind, the reader can never know 'truth' in any verifiable sense. James's writing instead promises an experiential type of knowledge, one that is attained by participating in the power games and moral dramas that unfold within the text. This collection argues that reading James ultimately requires not just an emotional responsiveness, but also an ethical assumption of responsibility for the act of reading. By placing James's work in a fresh theoretical context, this book throws fresh light on this most enigmatic of writers.
• Fresh look at the play of power and history in James's writing • Brings together leading scholars of James to address key issues in critical theory • Links literary theory with philosophy
Introduction Gert Buelens; 1. Power relations in the novels of James: the 'liberal' and the 'radical' version Winfried Fluck; 2. Multiple germs, metaphorical systems, and moral fluctuation in The Ambassadors Richard A. Hocks; 3. James and the ethics of control: aspiring architects and their floating creatures Sarah B. Daugherty; 4. James and the shadow of the Roman Empire: manners and the consenting victim Adrian Poole; 5. What Maisie Knew: Henry James's Bildungsroman of the artist as queer moralist Alfred Habegger; 6. The double narrative of 'The Beast in the Jungle': ethical plot, ironical plot and the play of power Michiel W. Heyns; 7. Homoeroticism, identity and agency in James's late tales Hugh Stevens; 8.'A Provision Full of Responsibilities': Senses of the past in Henry James's fourth phase David McWhirter; 9. Possessing the American scene: race and vulgarity, seduction and judgment Gert Buelens; 10. History, narrative, and responsibility: speech acts in 'The Aspern Papers' J. Hillis Miller; Index.