Tessa Hadley examines how Henry James progressively disentangled himself from the moralizing frame through which English-language novels in the nineteenth century had imagined sexual passion. Hadley argues that his relationship with the European novel tradition was crucial, helping to leave behind a way of seeing in which only 'bad' women could be sexual. She reads James's transitional fictions of the 1890s as explorations of how disabling and distorting ideals of women's goodness and purity were learned and perpetuated within English and American cultural processes. These explorations, Hadley argues, liberate James to write the great heterosexual love affairs of the late novels, with their emphasis on the power of pleasure and play: themes which are central to James's ambitious enterprise to represent the privileges and the pains of turn-of-the-century leisure class society.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Number of pages: 216
Weight: 320 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
"...it is a great pleasure to read Tessa Hadley's own prose: not only is her argument finely crafted; it is often eloquent..." The Henry James Review
"Treating primarily the novels of the 1890's, Hadley's welcome book provides an unprecedented analysis of the moral framework James trancended to express sexual passion in his fiction. This volume will deepen understanding of the power and subtleties of the great love affairs in James's fictions; it is an essential work of criticism for all collections of modern English literature." Choice
"...a welcome addition to recent assessments meant to combat our view of James..." English Literature in Transition 1880-1920