Cover image for The twentieth-century world of Henry James : changes in his work after 1900
Title:
The twentieth-century world of Henry James : changes in his work after 1900
Author:
Tintner, Adeline R., 1912-2003.
Publication Information:
Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
xvii, 252 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780807125342

9780807126042
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Conventional analyses of Henry James conclude with the completed novels of the major phase and the revisions of the New York Edition (1907-1909). -However, James lived on to write vigorously for nearly a decade longer. In this compelling study, Adeline R. Tintner--perhaps the foremost living James scholar--focuses her expertise on the writer's final years, exploring how his work developed and how his ideas changed in response to events in the twentieth century. As Tintner illustrates, despite his age and the long career behind him, James heralded in his later works the modernism that would be most fully represented by Joyce, Eliot, and Proust.

The twentieth century came to life for James during his long-delayed visit to America in 1904 and 1905. This trip resulted in his critical look at his native country, The American Scene (1907), a book Tintner argues is only now beginning to be appreciated. The trip also revitalized his review of his body of work in the famed New York Edition. Tintner explores James's revisions of his earlier novels, especially of Roderick Hudson, The American, and, most important, the retouched Portrait of a Lady, in which he refined Isabel Archer's aesthetic tastes to match his own. She also reads James's late autobiographical writings as a form of experimental fiction that would be the hallmark of twentieth-century modernism.

Indeed, Tintner explains that James's final writings demonstrate how he thoroughly embraced the new century and anticipated several of the chief ideas that would dominate modern literature. He reacted to the new economy and to the preoccupation with money in his unfinished novel The Ivory Tower; explored the idea of the interaction between historical time and the present with his uncompleted The Sense of the Past; and expressed concern with the deprivation of culture among the lower middle classes. The "flying machine," the "cinematograph," and the "Kodak" entered his twentieth-century vocabulary, and he parodied his own "usurping consciousness" in his "Monologue for Ruth Draper."

James even relaxed his treatment of sexuality, as is apparent in his suggestion of autoeroticism in "The Figure in the Carpet" and in what seems to be a description of the gay scene in The Sacred Fount. He became a propagandist during World War I, devoting the end of his career to urging American entry into the conflict. His last published writings before he died of a stroke on February 28, 1916, were emotional tributes to casualties of the war.

A fitting finale to Tintner's five astonishing works on "the world of Henry James," The Twentieth--Century World of Henry James will stand as one of the most significant volumes on the writer's last years. Through an amazing excavation of James's life and work, Tintner uncovers many of the modernist themes that preoccupied him as he entered the new century and that, in turn, were to preoccupy many of the writers who came to maturity in the first half of the twentieth century.


Author Notes

Adeline R. Tintner, a prolific independent Jamesian scholar, is the author of many books, most recently Henry James's Legacy: The Afterlife of His Figure and Fiction. She lives in New York City.


Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

This is a godsend for Henry James readers who quail at the prospect of confronting the master's 20th-century fiction. In the last of her five-volume work, Tintner shows that, instead of creating a reader-hostile atmosphere of pure consciousness, as has been supposed until recently, James reacted vigorously to the changes he witnessed on revisiting New York ("the terrible town") in 1904 and, readying himself to write his autobiography, shed many of his inhibitions. Tintner grounds James's later fiction (e.g., The Golden Bowl) in the real events of the 20th century, thus making them more accessible to today's reader. She shows how his fiction reflects the shock of the new and how his revisions of earlier novels reveal, among other things, his new appreciation of photography and the Impressionist painters and his experimentation with Bergson's distinction between real time and scientific or abstract time. Finally, Tintner investigates James's new willingness to explore the formerly taboo subject of homosexuality. James comes out not as a 19th-century writer who survived to be shocked by the new century but as a precursor of the themes and ideas that would dominate the fiction of Proust and Joyce after him. Highly recommended for all academic libraries.DCharles C. Nash, Cottey Coll., Nevada, MO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

The latest in Tintner's studies on the various "worlds" reflecting in and influencing James's works, this volume focuses on his writings during the last decade of his life (1905-15) and on some revisions for the New York edition of his works (1907-09). Tintner's topics "represent a personal selection of some of the modernist themes that preoccupied" James at the end of his life and a number of his modernist successors. This basically idiosyncratic approach leads to uneven results: like her earlier works, it reveals Tintner's prodigious knowledge and some incisive analyses alternating with lack of coherent, focused, or seemingly relevant material. The strongest chapters are the first, on James's 1904-05 visit to the US, which resulted in The American Scene and four stories about New York; the third, on his increasing interest in "consciousness," which resulted in revisions of earlier novels and three memoirs treated here as "experimental fiction"; and the fifth, on his more open trea tment of sexuality. The weaker chapters are those dealing with "cameos" of some friends in three late novels, James's use of time, and his new use of the "underclass," crime and criminals, and WW I propaganda. Sadly, this study does little to enhance James's stature. Recommended only for libraries with extensive James collections. J. E. Steiner emeritus, Drew University