Afterlives

  • Andrew Cutting

Abstract

Roderick Hudson’s marble sculptures will physically outlast him, however good or bad they may be as works of art. Though we know relatively little about them, they presumably aim to succeed within the tradition of classical and Renaissance sculpture, whose enduring stone forms, omnipresent in the great Italian cities, are the very model of the so-called immortal masterpiece. Writers, by contrast, know from the start that any enduring fame their productions may win will depend upon reputation and reproduction, for their words are not set in stone. At the end of James’s career, troubling questions about literary posterity are made urgent by the commercial failure of the New York Edition of his works, the task of writing his autobiography, and the legal niceties of settling his estate. The Wings of the Dove anticipates, but is not yet driven by, the career endgame. In this novel, the posthumous potential of James’s art becomes a grave and fabulously complex matter, awaiting construction with a sense of both fresh opportunity and rising urgency. Responses to personal experiences of bereavement since the 1880s find expression in the forging of a new style in the face of ongoing difficulty in establishing a mass audience for his fiction at the start of the new century.

Keywords

Burning Assure Ghost Defend Lost 

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Notes

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Copyright information

© Andrew Cutting 2005

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  • Andrew Cutting

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