Chiastic Inversion, Antithesis and Oxymoron

  • Ralf Norrman


In The Golden Bowl, Chapter XXIII, after we have just seen the Prince and Charlotte leave for their adulterous afternoon at Gloucester, there is a conversation in which Fanny and the Colonel try to size up the new situation. Fanny justifiably fears the worst:

‘I think there’s nothing they’re not now capable of — in their so intense good faith.’

‘Good faith?’ — he echoed the words, which had in fact something of an odd ring, critically.

‘Their false position. It comes to the same thing.’ (312)


Good Faith Real Thing Thematic Level Fictional World False Position 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    E.M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel (London: Edward Arnold, 1958), pp. 140–50.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Henry James, The Sacred Fount, introd. Leon Edel (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1959), p. 9.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Arthur Koestler, The Act of Creation (London: Hutchinson, 1964) p. 33.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    T.S. Eliot, ‘On Henry James: In Memory’, in F.W. Dupee (ed.), The Question of Henry James: A Collection of Critical Essays (New York: Henry Holt, 1945), p. 110.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    There are a number of good studies on James’s names. See Richard Gerber, ‘Die Magie der Namen bei Henry James’, Anglia 81 (1963), no. 1/2, esp. pp. 189–91. See alsoGoogle Scholar
  6. Robert L. Gale, ‘Names in James’, Names, 14–15 (June 1966), 83–108;Google Scholar
  7. Joseph M. Backus, ‘“Poor Valentin” or “Monsieur le Comte”: Variation in Character Designation as Matter for Critical Consideration in Henry James’ The American, Names 20–21 (1972–3), 47–55;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Evelyn J. Hinz, ‘Henry James’s Names: Tradition, Theory, and Method’, Colby Library Quarterly, 9 (September 1972), no. 11, 557–78;Google Scholar
  9. Joyce Tayloe Horrell, ‘A “Shade of a Special Sense”: Henry James and the Art of Naming’, American Literature, 42 (May 1970), no. 2, 203–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 16.
    Cf. Simon Nowell-Smith, The Legend of the Master (London: Constable, 1947), p. xxiii. See also pp. xxvi–xxvii.Google Scholar
  11. 19.
    See e. g. F.W. Dupee, Henry James (London: Methuen, 1951), p. 13; orGoogle Scholar
  12. Van Wyck Brooks, The Pilgrimage of Henry James (London: Jonathan Cape, 1928), p. 4.Google Scholar
  13. 22.
    Henry James, The Complete Tales of Henry James ed. and introd. Leon Edel (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1962–4), 3, p. 56.Google Scholar
  14. 23.
    Henry James, The Awkward Age, The Norton Library (New York: W.W. Norton, 1969), p. 255.Google Scholar
  15. 26.
    Walter Wright, ‘Maggie Verver: Neither Saint Nor Witch’, in Tony Tanner (ed.), Henry James: Modern Judgements (London: Macmillan, 1968), pp. 316–26.Google Scholar
  16. 28.
    E. Duncan Aswell, ‘James’s In the Cage: The Telegraphist as Artist’, Texas Studies in Literature and Language, 8 (Fall 1966), no. 3, 375–84.Google Scholar
  17. 29.
    For a study of this aspect of The Turn of the Screw, see Norrman, pp. 52, 8993, 150–80 and passim; and E. Duncan Aswell, ‘Reflections of a Governess: Image and Distortion in “The Turn of the Screw”’, Nineteenth-Century Fiction, 23 (June 1968), no. 1, 49–63. In the fifties and sixties critics tended to see these passages of symbolic identification in terms of limited, momentary ironyCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. See e. g. Oscar Cargill, ‘Henry James as Freudian Pioneer’, Chicago Review, 10 (Summer 1956), no. 2, p. 21Google Scholar
  19. and Marius Bewley, The Complex Fate: Hawthorne, Henry James and Some Other American Writers (London: Chatto and Windus, 1952), pp. 109–111. Since the late sixties, however, critics have gradually begun to realize that the pattern reveals something far more essential and important.Google Scholar
  20. See Paul N. Siegel, ‘“Miss Jessel”: Mirror Image of the Governess’, Literature and Psychology, 18 (1968), no. 1, 30–8, andGoogle Scholar
  21. Juliet McMaster, ‘The Full Image of a Repetition in The Turn of the Screw’, Studies in Short Fiction, 6, (Summer 1969), no. 4, 378–82.Google Scholar
  22. 32.
    Tony Tanner, ‘The Fearful Self: Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady’ in Henry James: Modern Judgements (Nashville/London: Aurora Publishers, 1970), 141–59, p. 148. In fact Tanner convincingly makes out very much the same similarity between the opposites of Isabel and Osmond as can be made out between e. g. the governess and the ghosts in The Turn of the Screw.Google Scholar

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© Ralf Norrman 1982

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  • Ralf Norrman

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