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Henry James and the Economy of the Short Story

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Abstract

This essay considers some of the commercial and social constraints, and temptations, and opportunities, which affected James’s writing of short fiction in the last half of his career; and tries to suggest something of what he learned, and suffered, from them. In Jerome McGann’s term, I want to reflect in a few ways on the ‘bibliographical environment’ of Henry James’s later short stories, the market he tried to make his way in and his creative responses to it.

Keywords

Private Life Short Story Good Sort Rare Book Modernist Writer 
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Notes

  1. Jerome McGann, The Beauty of Inflections: Literary Investigations in Historical Method and Theory (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), p. 85.Google Scholar
  2. Michael Anesko, ‘Friction with the Market’: Henry lames and the Profession of Authorship (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 6.Google Scholar
  3. William Charvat, ‘Literary Economics and Literary History’, in The Profession of Authorship in America, 1800–1870 (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1968), p. 284; quoted in ‘Friction with the Market’. p. 8.Google Scholar
  4. John Sutherland, Victorian Novelists and Publishers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976), p. 1.Google Scholar
  5. Henry James, Literary Criticism, volume II: French Writers: Other European Writers: The Prefaces to the New York Edition, edited by Leon Edel and Mark Wilson (New York: The Library of America, 1984), p. 32 (hereafter LCII).Google Scholar
  6. Ellery Sedgwick ‘Henry James and the Atlantic Monthly: Editorial Perspectives on James’ “Friction with the Market”, Studies in Bibliography, 45 (1992), 311–32 (p. 312).Google Scholar
  7. Peter Keating, The Haunted Study: A Social History of the English Novel 1875–1914 (London: Seeker and Warburg, 1989), p. 41.Google Scholar
  8. Thomas Hardy, ‘Candour in English Fiction’, New Review, January 1890, 15–21; reprinted in Thomas Hardy’s Personal Writings: Prefaces, Literary Opinions, Reminiscences, edited by Harold Orel (Lawrence, Manhattan, Wichita, London: University Press of Kansas, 1966), 125–33, p. 125.Google Scholar
  9. Henry James, ‘The Death of the Lion’ (1894), reprinted in Terminations (London: Heinemann, 1895), 3–64, p. 21.Google Scholar
  10. Edmund Gosse, Selected Letters of Henry James to Edmund Gosse: A Literary Friendship, edited by Rayburn S. Moore (Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press, 1988), p. 149; headline quoted in Leon Edel and Dan H. Laurence, A Bibliography of Henry James (The Soho Bibliographies, viii), 3rd edition, revised with the assistance of James Rambeau (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), p. 107.Google Scholar
  11. Leon Edel, Henry James: A Life (New York: Harper & Row, 1985), p. 506.Google Scholar
  12. George Gissing, New Grub Street (1891), edited by Bernard Bergonzi (Harmondworth: Penguin, 1968), p. 80.Google Scholar
  13. Bliss Perry, And Gladly Teach: Reminiscences (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1935), p. 178.Google Scholar
  14. John Worthen, D. H. Lawrence: A Literary Life (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989), p. 38).Google Scholar
  15. Adeline Tintner, The Cosmopolitan World of Henry James: An Intertextual Study (Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press, 1991), p. 121, for a brief account of this magazine.Google Scholar
  16. Henry James, Terminations (London: Heinemann, 1895), p. 46.Google Scholar
  17. Henry James, The Soft Side (London: Methuen, 1900), p. 258.Google Scholar
  18. Sidney Kramer, A History of Stone & Kimball and Herbert S. Stone & Co., with a Bibliography of their Publications 1893–1905 (Chicago: Norman W. Forgue, 1940), pp. 270–1).Google Scholar
  19. Jonathan Freedman emphasises the faute de mieux aspect of this process less than its success with James’s Anglo-American modernist posterity: ‘he was enabled to institutionalize himself in the competitive literary marketplace of Edwardian London as the great Master of the new Art of Fiction, and thus to create a career model for the writers and artists who were to follow in his wake. It is this strategy, for example, that was explicitly pursued by modernist successors like T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, who modeled themselves on James precisely in order to gain the same cultural status they saw their predecessor as achieving’ (Professions of Taste: Henry James, British Aestheticism, and Commodity Culture (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1990), p. xxvi).Google Scholar
  20. Arnold Bennett expressed doubts in 1910 about the collection The Finer Grain, in terms which have a crude force: ‘he seldom chooses themes of first-class importance, and when he does choose such a theme he never fairly bites it and makes it bleed’. Henry James: The Critical Heritage, edited by Roger Gard (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968), p. 489).Google Scholar
  21. Henry James, The Spoils ofPoynton (London: Heinemann, 1897), p. 18.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1996

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