Studies in Henry James

Sergio Perosa


A life-long interest in Henry James culminates in these studies, which examine central (and sometimes peripheral) aspects of his work: his discontinuous, unfinished autobiography of the growth of the youthful genius, his ‘international theme’ – the meeting and clash of European and American characters, mœurs, and values –, his related fascination with Italy and the important role it plays in the confrontation, his short fiction and exemplary texts, his surprising views of other writers (Tolstoy, D’Annunzio, Shakespeare), his complex literary conceptions and influential fictional theories – almost an ante litteram narratology – and finally his perceptive awareness of epochal social and cultural changes at the end of the 19th century. They are ‘acts of life’, and acts of appropriation. All this makes him a master and a first example of early Modernism, a forerunnerof  20th century writers, and it is explored with wide-ranging scholarship and elegance in a book that is meant for pleasant, rather than exacting, reading, to be read in, not necessarily through, as dictated by the interest or whim of the moment.

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