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Henry James and the Culture of Consumption


  • Date Published: September 2014
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107039056

£ 70.00

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About the Authors
  • This book explores Henry James's imaginative engagements with the burgeoning consumer culture of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, focusing on his hitherto neglected fascination with shops and the shopping experience. Examining a wide range of the author's fiction and non-fiction in the context of developments such as the rise of the department store, the growing public presence of women shoppers and shop workers, and the increasing sophistication of commodity display and advertising, the book argues that consumer desire constitutes an integral part of James's understanding of modern subjectivity. It also demonstrates that the structures and strategies of commodity culture are deeply embedded in his style, his aesthetic and his conception of authorship. The study offers new readings of familiar and less familiar texts, and includes a wealth of original historical documentation that has been gleaned from contemporary newspapers, periodicals, advertising manuals, sales catalogues and guidebooks.

    • This is the first book to examine James's imaginative engagement with retail culture in detail
    • Relates original historical documentation gleaned from contemporary news sources, advertising manuals, sales catalogues and guidebooks to James's works
    • Contributes new readings of a wide range of James's fiction and non-fiction, including both familiar and less familiar texts
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A lasting contribution to James scholarship.' The Times Literary Supplement

    'The point is not merely the generative force of Miranda El-Rayess' elaborate texts and nuanced contexts - the impetus they give to one's own free-associating - but more importantly her provision of a generous cultural-historical framework within which to see these works anew and through which to deepen one's understanding of their agency in a rapidly mutating world. This is a finely wrought piece of scholarship, and we are beneficiaries of its textual-intellectual largesse.' Eric Haralson, American Literary History

    'Miranda El-Rayess meticulously elucidates a significant but overlooked aspect of James's oeuvre, namely the figurative resonance of shopping and shop windows as a multi-valenced node of meaning in several of his key works … [She] supplies an important but missing piece of the hermeneutic puzzle.' Kathy Lawrence, Review of English Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2014
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107039056
    • length: 246 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • contains: 11 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. 'Hungry gazes through clear plates': the artist at the shop window
    2. Women behind glass
    3. Women in the city
    4. Shopping for American masculinity
    5. The other side of the counter
    Epilogue: 'This furnishing forth of my Volumes'.

  • Author

    Miranda El-Rayess, New York University
    Miranda El-Rayess is Lecturer in Writing in the Liberal Studies Program at New York University in London, and Postdoctoral Tutor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has published articles on James in Critical Quarterly and Symbiosis, contributed a chapter to David McWhirter's Henry James in Context (Cambridge University Press, 2010), and reviewed works of literary criticism for the Times Literary Supplement. She is currently co-editing The Beast in the Jungle and Other Tales with Neil Reeve for the forthcoming Cambridge Edition of the Complete Fiction of Henry James.

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