Renunciations in James’s Late Novels
People tend to find Jamesian renunciations intensely irritating. They will say that James uses them as a catch-all device for his resolutions, as who should say there is nothing wrong with these people that a good renunciation would not fix. The standard reply is a vague reference to different times, or a Puritan might explain that James has plenty to teach the hedonists of today. But irritation seems the most sensible response. In any case, all sides concur in the opinion that James had a general theory about the universe which made him decide that renunciations are a good thing and add that James himself ‘had renounced’.
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