Henry James’ Narrative Technique: Consciousness, Perception, by K. Boudreau

By K. Boudreau

Henry James Narrative method situates Henry James recognized approach inside an rising modernist culture with roots in philosophical debates among rationalism and empiricism. This cogent learn considers James works within the context of nineteenth-century idea on realization, conception, and cognition. Kristin Boudreau makes the compelling argument that those philosophical discussions motivated James depictions of attention and are quintessential to his narrative strategy.

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Henry James’ Narrative Technique: Consciousness, Perception, and Cognition

Henry James Narrative approach situates Henry James well-known approach inside of an rising modernist culture with roots in philosophical debates among rationalism and empiricism. This cogent research considers James works within the context of nineteenth-century notion on cognizance, belief, and cognition.

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Toward the end of the book, in fact, he alludes to his own spiritual crisis and the “exquisite peace” that he found when he discovered Swedenborg’s doctrine (170). 24 Throughout The Secret of Swedenborg, the author presents himself as a partisan for Swedenborg and his system, announcing at one point, “I attempt no apology, accordingly, for Swedenborg’s doctrine on this subject [the abject nothingness of creation], but applaud it with all my heart” (48). And while James at one point reminds readers that “Swedenborg was all simply a seer, and in no sense a dogmatist or ‘thinker’” (39–40), on another occasion he gestures with approval at Swedenborg’s “dogmatic pretensions” (11).

3) Nussbaum’s argument about prose style goes to the heart of what I have been arguing here about dogmatism, on the one hand, and a more open-minded empiricism on the other. ’s flat and confident prose style neatly captures the certainty of his argument and the closed nature of Swedenborg’s system as he understands it. 35 I think it is no accident that T. S. Eliot, who understood and valued both philosophy and literature, would have turned to the novelist Henry James as a model of superior intelligence, for it is in James’ fiction that we find a style responsive to the twin insights that, on the one hand, willful and systematic attempts to understand the universe don’t necessarily lead to happy outcomes, and on the other, that their attraction is at times impossible to resist.

The novelist recognized the typological tradition—extending backward to his native country’s colonial origins—of seeing the world according to preexisting (usually Biblical) patterns. 3 James seems to have understood the impulse as a means of enlarging personal feelings with a larger historical narrative even as he recognized its destructive effects. Olive Chancellor, the descendent of American Puritans, turns to typological thought both to help express the nobleness of her dying friend’s long life and to understand Miss Birdseye’s work in the context of a larger tradition.

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