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Henry James and the Queerness of Style

Henry James and the Queerness of Style

Kevin Ohi
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Henry James and the Queerness of Style
    Book Description:

    Kevin Ohi proposes that to read Henry James—particularly the late texts—is to confront the queer potential of style and the traces it leaves on the literary life. Ohi asserts that James’s queerness is to be found neither in the homoerotic thematics of the texts nor in the suggestions of same-sex desire in the author’s biography, but in his style.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7665-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. INTRODUCTION: On the Erotics of Literary Style
    (pp. 1-32)

    Henry James and the Queerness of Style seeks to trace such a “nonpreexistent foreign language” in the writings of Henry James and thereby to find in James’s style a queerness that, not circumscribed by whatever sexualities or identities might be represented by the texts, makes for what is most challenging about recent queer accounts of culture: a radical antisociality that seeks to unyoke sexuality from the communities and identities—gay or straight—that would tame it, a disruption that thwarts efforts to determine political goals according to a model of representation, the corrosive effect of queerness, in short, on received...

  4. CHAPTER 1 Writing Queerness: Zeugma and Syllepsis in The Golden Bowl
    (pp. 33-58)

    Henry James’s style is perhaps nowhere more importunate than in his 1905 novelThe Golden Bowl. The novel’s redoubtable linguistic texture—especially the densely metaphorical language of narrator and characters alike—and the formalism of its structure can cause one momentarily to forget its startlingly lurid premise: its plot has a billionaire and his daughter (Adam and Maggie Verver) each marry other people, the better to sustain their own incestuous relationship. Or, from the perspective of the victims, a couple (Prince Amerigo and Charlotte Stant), whose poverty leaves them unable to marry each other, marry instead a billionaire and his...

  5. CHAPTER 2 The Burden of Residuary Comment: Syntactical Idiosyncrasies in The Wings of the Dove
    (pp. 59-108)

    For D. A. Miller’s Jane Austen, or The Secret of Style, free indirect style is of interest in large part because of its power to catalyze effects of shame; the virtuoso shadings of a narration’s proximity to and distance from its characters excite a fantasy of imperturbable remove—a total depersonalization that threatens, from the very start, to collapse into personification and abjection. (Shame emerges as one travels that circuit back toward personification.) Discussing Austen’sEmma,Miller describes the free indirect mode as a dynamic of identification: “For, no less than close reading, the close writing that is free indirect...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Hover, Torment, Waste: Late Writings and the Great War
    (pp. 109-148)

    The last essay that Henry James prepared for publication was an introduction to Rupert Brooke’sLetters from America. This remarkable tribute to a beautiful dead young poet, killed by blood poisoning while serving in the British Army, offers various enticements to biographical reading. It joins a series of James’s essays written during World War I—many of them collected in Pierre Walker’s important collectionHenry James on Culture¹—which tempts one to read them as radically distinct from, if not opposed to, the other late fictional and critical writings. Here, at last, so a reader might think, is the writer...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Lambert Strether’s Belatedness: The Ambassadors and the Queer Afterlife of Style
    (pp. 149-170)

    Critics of James’s work have been less circumspect about the search for “the Man” in “the Poet”—less attentive to the search’s paradoxes and perils—than is the author himself in the late essays. And thus the tale of belatedness and equivocal aesthetic recompense offered byThe Ambassadorshas often served to reinforce a current in James studies that—more or less explicitly and to vastly different effects—understands James’s style in biographical terms: its opacities or seeming evasions point to the way the man himself diffused, postponed, avoided, sublimated, or more or less missed “life.” The novel is particularly...

  8. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 171-174)
  9. Notes
    (pp. 175-212)
  10. Index
    (pp. 213-228)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 229-229)