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Title: The independent form : Henry James's criticism of the novel
Author: Jones, Vivien M.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3592 9774
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1980
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The thesis provides a comprehensive survey of James's criticism and the introduction briefly outlines its contribution in supplementing and correcting studies of single aspects. The first chapter, 'The Young Reviewer', deals with James's criticism before his move to Europe. It shows the close relationship between James's prescriptive approach and the crusading, nationalistic idealism of his editors, and examines both the traditionality and the originality of James's analytic method. By analysing James's reviews of other critics, it establishes his developing critical principle of flexible eclecticism, derived largely from Sainte-Beuve. The second chapter, 'James and French Realism', examines James's complex relationship with his French contemporaries, his concern to modify their formalism by moral evaluation and his search for a compromise between real and ideal. Though suggesting that there were aspects of French realism to which James remained blind, it emphasises his growing tolerance of other methods, exemplified in his 1902 essay on Zola, but suggests, too, the deep-rooted mistrust of simplistic naturalism which made James dissatisfied with Zola's theory. The third chapter, 'English Controversies', examines further this ambivalent view of realism, in the context of James's relationships with Besant, Howells, Stevenson and Wells, and his growing view of the novel as the formal realisation of an individual perception. It stresses the originality of tnis formalism in the context of English criticism, but also the continuity between James's early idealism and later belief that art 'makes life'. Though some of James's late criticise is narrowly defensive, his major critical contribution is his fertile, creative understanding of fictional problems and the last chapter, 'The Legacy of the Prefaces', emphasises this aspect rather than his justification of point of view. James is both formalist and moralist: his intelligent eclecticism, exactly suited to the protean novel, makes it unwise to force him into any rigid critical category.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature