Henry James and the Economy of the Short Story



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.


Private Life Short Story Good Sort Rare Book Modernist Writer 
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  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
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  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
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1996

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