Decadence in the Late Novels of Henry James by A. Kventsel

By A. Kventsel

Taking a look at the novels of James's significant part within the context of fin-de-siècle decadence, this publication illuminates crucial concerns within the James corpus and critical points of a wealthy and fraught cultural second. via a detailed exam of the textures of the novels, Kventsel defines and explores their psycho-cultural box of which means.

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Decadence in the Late Novels of Henry James

The novels of James's significant part within the context of fin-de-siècle decadence, this booklet illuminates primary concerns within the James corpus and critical elements of a wealthy and fraught cultural second. via an in depth exam of the textures of the novels, Kventsel defines and explores their psycho-cultural box of which means.

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Passion in Paris is a form of sacrifice, and Strether, too, undergoes a Parisian martyrdom. When the ear is attuned to this resonance, the novel seems to vibrate with the imagery of The Lamb of God. The motif is present aurally in ‘Lambert’12 and in ‘Lambinet,’ and typologically in ‘Abel,’ the late Mr Newsome. It is intimated in the name ‘Woollett,’ whose inhabitants are once pictured as browsing sheep, pulled up by a ‘turn of [Chad’s] wrist and a jerk of the far-flung noose’ (172). ’ At a late moment, Chad is witnessed languidly consuming ‘roast mutton’ (502), an image unlikely to go down easily for us.

The tension between these symbolic aspects is best embodied in the contrast between the garnished, edible dove of the psalm Pater cites and the solitary, unworldly dove in Psalm 55: My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me / Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me. / And I said, Oh that I had wings, like a dove! For then would I fly away, and be at rest. / Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness, Selah.

These receptacles and their contents, like the ‘pocket’ Mrs Pocock uses for her moral transactions in Paris (341), are both abstract and highly material. 4 The idiom of modernity employed in relation to Woollett forges a complex link between professional achievement and a fully crystallized sense of self. Strether’s attachment to Mrs Newsome is fueled by anxious desire to preserve his ‘one presentable little scrap of identity’ (101), vouchsafed by her – the editorship of the glossy Woollett Review, which, though unmarketable, nonetheless belongs to the culture of the market.

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