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Title: The location of Henry James's drama
Author: Greenwood, C. A.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1998
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This dissertation describes the degree to which thinking about the theatre was involved in James's writing processes. As its central example it takes his numerous efforts to adapt his works to and from the stage. James expended much energy in the effort to adapt his fiction to theatrical conditions. I conclude that James studied the contemporary stage and made huge efforts to conform to its strictures because he saw it as the best means available to him to dramatise the action of personality. The work's aim is to describe Henry James's involvement with the contemporary stage as his means towards developing to dramatic writing style. It looks at both James's plays and his prose works and considers them in the light of the well-made play and the development of fourth-wall theatre. After some initial experiments and disappointments (1880-1893) James found much that he could adapt into his own writing from contemporary plays that dramatised peoples' interactions with places. I look at his critical and personal pronouncements and show how they chime in with the works and the arguments of such figures as W.B. Yeats, André Antoine, Emile Zola, and George Bernard Shaw. The writings covered in the thesis are, therefore: representative samples of the plays, novels and stories that were adaptations of each other; critical remarks in journalism and private notebooks and letters; contemporary work in and about the theatre by writers other than James. The dissertation privileges James's voice but emphasises that his was but one (and by no means the loudest) amongst a particular group clamouring for roughly the same change, a movement towards a serious theatre. James took what he could find from contemporary drama both as succour and material for his own efforts towards dramatising personality. I argue that he examined the European avant-garde, as it was expressed in Paris and London, for any means to further a personal project. The thesis is, therefore, about how Henry James adapted his style of writing so as to accommodate developments he was gathering from writing for the stage. It emphasises that he thought about the theatre continuously and takes issue with the received account of James's early, middle and late styles. James did not break with the stage after 1895's Guy Domville incident, as is widely believed. By providing an account of how he manipulated and developed the representation of space across his career I show that, in fact, he continued directly on with his project, writing with the same theatrical concerns in mind for much of the rest of his life.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available