Henry James and the Philosophical Novel by Merle A. Williams

By Merle A. Williams

Henry James and the Philosophical Novel breaks clean flooring through analyzing James's specified place as a philosophical novelist, heavily linked to the weather of principles generated through his brother William. It considers storytelling as a style of philosophical enquiry, exhibiting how a variety of distinct thinkers have depended on fictional narrative as a strategy for formulating and clarifying their principles; and investigates (with shut connection with his novels) the affiliations among James's perform as a novelist and modern epistemological, ethical, and linguistic matters.

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It is clear that the 'forms of transcendence' do fly up for her, because she, like the phenomenologist, finds no object completely knowable, with its interest exhaustible. 7 Then there is the fascination of studying the fishermen on the beach and the travellers gathering at the little harbour. Because they assign no positive function to the imagination, because they are too absorbed by the constant round of diverting gratification to wonder, Sir Claude and Mrs Beale eventually find themselves trapped both by each other and by the oppressive nature of their relationship.

What Maisie Knew: the challenge of vision 35 The revolutionary view of the world which the phenomenological reduction produces is carefully elucidated in Merleau-Ponty's essay on Cezanne's achievement. He explains that Cezanne lays bare a reality which defies pre-established expectations: We live in the midst of man-made objects, among tools, in houses, streets, cities, and most of the time we see them only through the human actions which put them to use. We become used to thinking that all of this exists necessarily and unshakeably.

Versfeld contends that ' moralism is the morality of false guilt, the morality of taboos, of legalism, of sheer convention, of the domination of man from the outside'. 14 This seems a reasonable description of Mrs Wix's standpoint. James consistently presents a character who is haunted by the ideal of respectability, whose ' moral sense' is founded on the adherence to strict rules, on guilty fears, and on the identification and punishment of crimes. Her judgement of Mrs Beale is so summary not simply because she dislikes Maisie's stepmother, but because Mrs Beale has broken the rules of approved social conduct - and the external standard proves decisive.

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