Henry James and the Art of Impressions

ISBN : 9780198853510

John Scholar
304 ページ
153 x 234 mm
Oxford English Monographs

Henry James criticized the impressionism which was revolutionizing French painting and French fiction, and satirized the British aesthetic movement, which championed impressionist criticism. Yet time and again he used the word 'impression' to represent the most intense moments of consciousness of his characters, as well as the work of the literary artist. Henry James and the Art of Impressions argues that the literary art of the impression, as James practised it, places his work within the wider cultural history of impressionism, and means that his work stands outside that history and challenges its very terms.
Henry James and the Art of Impressions offers an unprecedentedly detailed cultural and intellectual history of the impression. It draws on philosophy, psychology, literature, critical theory, and the visual arts to study James's early art criticism, literary criticism, travel writing, prefaces, and the three great novels of his major phase,The Ambassadors,The Wings of the Dove, and The Golden Bowl. It argues that coherent philosophical meanings of the Jamesian impression emerge when they are comprehended as a family of related ideas about perception, imagination, and aesthetics - bound together by James's attempt to reconcile the novel's value as a mimetic form with its value as a transformative creative activity.

Henry James and the Art ofImpressions traces the development of the impression across a range of disciplines to show the cultural and intellectual debts James's use of the word owes them. It offers a more philosophical account of James to complement the more historicist work of recent decades.



Part I: James's Theory of the Impression, 1872-88

1 James's Criticism of Existing Theories of the Impression

2 Contexts (I): Empiricism and Pscyhology

3 Contexts (II): Aestheticism and the Performative

4 James's Late Theory of the Impression

Part II: James's Practice of the Impression in the Late Novels

5 Impressions Received in The Ambassadors

6 Impressions Made in The Wings of the Dove

7 Impressions New and Used in The Golden Bowl


John Scholar is a Lecturer in the Department of English Literature, University of Reading