• HENRY JAMES AND ROMANTIC REVISIONISM: THE QUEST FOR THE MAN OF IMAGINATION IN THE LATE WORK

      O'Hara, Daniel T., 1948-; Singer, Alan, 1948-; Newman, Steve, 1970-; Caserio, Robert L., 1944-; Arac, Jonathan, 1945- (Temple University. Libraries, 2017)
      This study situates the late work of Henry James in the tradition of Romantic revisionism. In addition, it surveys the history of James criticism alongside the academic critique of Romantic-aesthetic ideology. I read The American Scene, the New York Edition Prefaces, and other late writings as a single text in which we see James refashion an identity by transforming the divisions or splits in the modern subject into the enabling condition for renewed creativity. In contrast to the Modernist myth of Henry James the master reproached by recent scholarship, I offer a new critical fiction – what James calls the man of imagination – that models a form of selfhood which views our ironic and belated condition as a fecund limitation. The Jamesian man of imagination encourages the continual (but never resolvable) quest for a coherent creative identity by demonstrating how our need to sacrifice elements of life (e.g. desires and aspirations) when we confront tyrannical circumstances can become a prerequisite for pursuing an unreachable ideal. This study draws on the work of post-war Romantic revisionist scholarship (e.g. Northrop Frye, Frank Kermode, Harold Bloom, Geoffrey Hartman, and Paul de Man) as well as French theory (e.g. Maurice Blanchot, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida) and other traditions (e.g. Kenneth Burke, R.P. Blackmur, and Lionel Trilling) to challenge new instrumentalizing scholarly methodologies that aim to overcome the ironies of critical vision. I argue that James’s man of imagination not only presents a critical agency that profits from criticism’s penchant for ironic repetition but also a politics that can help us navigate the tension between artistic self-stylization and the social constraints intrinsic to the liberal rule of law.