Cover image for Henry James and the "woman business"
Henry James and the "woman business"
Habegger, Alfred.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge [England] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1989.
Physical Description:
ix, 288 pages ; 24 cm.
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS2127.F44 H33 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This is a historical critique of Henry James in relation to nineteenth-century feminism and women's fiction. Habegger has brought to light extensive new documentation on James's tangled connections with what was thought and written about women in his time. The emphasis is equally on his life and on his fictions. This is the first book to investigate his father's bizarre lifelong struggle with free love and feminism, a struggle that played a major role in shaping James. The book also shows how seriously he distorted the truth about the cousin, Minnie Temple, whose self-assertive image inspired him; and how indebted he was to certain American women writers whom he attacked in reviews but whose plots and heroines he appropriated in his own fiction.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

A highly informative--even fascinating--addition to the distinguished series "Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture," this well-written volume brings together a judicious Freudian reading of Henry James himself within the James family constellation, with insightful application of the recent rich scholarhsip on the popular women's writing of James's own day, particularly those novels with which James in his early career as a book reviewer was thoroughly familiar. What emerges from this provacative combination is threefold: an increased understanding of the achievement and significance of the women writers in question; astute readings of key James texts, most notably The Portrait of a Lady and The Bostonians; and a deeper appreciation for the complex elements that contribute to the creative accomplishments of a great artist. This is a valuable addition to the vast critical literature on James, one that truly advances, and alters, our understanding of its subject--the fictions and their creator. Excellent notes and bibliography. Highly recommended for collections in American literature, American studies, and women's studies. -S. R. Graham, Nazareth College of Rochester

Table of Contents

1 Introduction
2 The lessons of the father: Henry James, Sr., on sexual difference
3 Precocious incest: first novels by Louisa May Alcott and Henry James
4 The chains of literature: Elizabeth Stoddard and Henry James
5 Anne Moncure Crane Seemuller: Henry James's Jocasta
6 Minnie Temple's death and the birth of Henry James's imagination
7 The fatherless heroine and the filial son: deep background for The Portrait of a Lady
8 The return of the father in The Bostonians
9 Conclusion