It is conventionally agreed that with the three great novels of his so-called ‘major phase’ — The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903), The Golden Bowl (1904) — Henry James fulfilled and in effect concluded his career as novelist, despite the fact that he lived on until 1916, most of that time in good health, and left at his death such unfinished efforts as The Ivory Tower and The Sense of the Past. It is also conventionally assumed that James’s three avowedly autobiographical volumes — A Small Boy and Others (1913), Notes of a Son and Brother (1914), The Middle Years (1917) — constitute his only deliberate gesture toward autobiography as such, the incompleteness of which (the record breaks off in the mid-1870s at the ‘end’ of the unfinished third book) is to be understood in terms of a life already in effect fully shaped and interpreted through a completed career in art. Whatever the inevitable frequencies with which the novelist employed autobiographical material, or the autobiographer employed novelistic procedure, these two concentrated bursts of narrative energy are taken as separate culminations, artistic and autobiographical, to James’s literary life.
KeywordsSacred Grove American Scene American Future Literal Observation Cultural Portent
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Notes and References
- 1.Henry James, The American Scene ed. Irving Howe (New York: Horizon, 1967) p. 18.Google Scholar
- 6.See Leon Edel, Henry James: The Master (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1972) pp. 260–1, andGoogle Scholar
- The Notebooks of Henry James, ed. F. O. Matthiessen and Kenneth B. Murdock (New York: Oxford, 1947) pp. 320–1; see also The American Scene, pp. 68–71.Google Scholar