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Title: Another world of thought and feeling : the spiritual economy of the late novels of Henry James
Author: Hutchison, Hazel
ISNI:       0000 0001 2417 8119
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2000
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Henry James is a writer profoundly interested in hidden experience. Although not an overtly religious writer, his late novels show an increasing interest in supernatural phenomena as well as religious themes and images. This calls for an examination of his underlying spiritual economy. This thesis traces the workings of these ideas in five major novels. The opening chapter places James's treatment of such ideas in its historical and cultural context, and outlines connections in his thought with that of his family, especially his brother, the philosopher and psychologist William James. In Chapter Two, The Turn of the Screw offers an opportunity for examining James's idea of evil. This novel hovers between psychological and parapsychological explanations of the tale, thus exposing the duplicity of signs and of values. This in turn invites discussion of Jacques Derrida's idea of supplementarity and its relationship to James's fiction. Supplementarity also surfaces in Chapter Three, which looks at similar problems of perspective and expression in The Sacred Fount, and explores the link between art and the sacred. Art and appearance figure again in Chapter Four in connection with The Ambassadors, a work concerned with the nature of truth and error, and with the potential of signs and symbols to represent spiritual experience. It also raises the problem of death, which receives further attention in Chapter Five, where The Wings of the Dove allows discussion of James's views of death and the afterlife. Chapter Six examines James's use of symbolism and the possibility of redemption as dramatised in The Golden Bowl. Through these works it is possible to trace a spiritual economy based not on dogmatic belief, but on the subtleties of spiritual experience, on a supplementary system where things find their form in that which they are not, and on the redeeming qualities of consciousness.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature