Points of Departure from The American (1967)
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Jamesian characters may live in a world in which there are numerous social forms to observe and proprieties to maintain, but the bond of decorum is more than social. While it is also true that members of James’s Society may appropriate one another and proceed mutually to manipulate and exploit each other, there are bonds besides interpersonal involvement and control upon them as well. The physical environment is equally important. James’s characters are under the sway of the places from which they come, and whatever worlds they enter. The lively inter-action between them — the social warfare waged in the interests of wealth and power, must not obscure the strong correspondences between the environment and the consequently limited behaviour in it — the fact of patterned action. For James’s work is, above all, composed.
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