Description - Henry James as a Biographer by Willie Tolliver
This study of Henry James's biographies of Nathaniel Hawthorne and William Wetmore Story offers an argument that he deserves greater recognition for his contributions to the development of biography. Although James maintained an ambivalent relationship to the art of biography, in his reviews, criticism, letters and fiction, he let it known how he thought biographies should be written. It is necessary to scrutinise the ways in which James's theoretical convictions fail him when he writes two biographies himself. Both Hawthorne (1879) and William Wetmore Story and His Friends (1903) fail to adhere to the way traditional biographies achieve unity. Neither work has at its centre a dynamic and fully dimensional apprehension of the biographical subject. Instead James violates one of his own essential biographical tenets. He usurps his subject and places himself at the centre of what should be a narrative of his subject's life. The results fall short of fully achieved biography, but they do not fall short of literary interest. In order to write these books according to his own genius, James had to reinvent the form.
They are rife with innovations, chief among them his great experimentation with narrative point of view, here brought to bear on biography. This concept and others survey the terrain for the important biographical practitioners and theorists who follow him. For this reason, a special place must be found for James in pantheon of experimental biographers.
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(229mm x 152mm x mm)
Garland Publishing Inc
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Inc
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