Collecting and Appreciating: Henry James and the Transformation of Aesthetics in the Age of Consumption (Cultural Interactions: Studies in the Relationship between the Arts)
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This book examines the role and the meaning of collecting in the fiction of Henry James. Emerging as a refined consumerist practice at the end of the nineteenth century, collecting not only set new rules for appreciating art, but also helped to shape the aesthetic tenets of major literary movements such as naturalism and aestheticism. Although he befriended some of the greatest collectors of the age, in his narrative works James maintained a sceptical, if not openly critical, position towards collecting and its effects on appreciation. Likewise, he became increasingly reluctant to follow the fashionable trend of classifying and displaying art objects in the literary text, resorting to more complex forms of representation.
Drawing from classic and contemporary aesthetics, as well as from sociology and material culture, this book fills a gap in Jamesian criticism, explaining how and why James's aversion towards collecting was central to the development of his fiction from the beginning of his career to the so-called major phase.
Contents: Introduction - I. Appreciation in the Age of Consumption - II. Henry James's Early Response To Collecting - III. Between Aestheticism and Naturalism - IV. The Princess Casamassima - V. Henry James's Aesthetics of Desire - VI. The Spoils of Poynton - VII. The Golden Bowl - Bibliography - Index
of a kind of cocoanut, with very often rather an unseemly shell, but good milk and kernel inside. Now, if you possess twenty cocoanuts, and being thirsty, go impatiently from one to the other, giving only a single scratch with the point of your knife to the shell of each, you will get no milk from all the twenty. But if you leave nineteen of them alone, and give twenty cuts to the shell of one, you will get through it, and at the milk of it. And the tendency of the human mind is always to get
authenticity of the pieces they actually own. At least, that is what Theobald believes: for him the possession of his ‘authentic’ Serafina has more value than Mrs Coventry’s cheap reproductions. For a reading of Theobald’s conversion of Serafina into an aesthetic object and the woman’s resistance to it, see Izzo’s Portraying the Lady, 30 and 40–5. 62 CHAPTER 3 himself through a libidinal investment, magnifying his self to the detriment of the object (the painter says: ‘“I’ve not really had –
human beings and objects which resulted in a paradoxical estrangement, others by the increase of such distance resulting in a paradoxical intimacy. Ascribing naturalism to the first group, Simmel pointed out the limits of the movement’s project of scientific objectivity: Even naturalism which specifically aims at overcoming the distance between us and reality, conforms to the basic principle of all art: to bring us closer to things by placing them at a distance from us. For only by self-deception
girl’s nose […] without seeing, logically, a responsibility attached’, 163–4). Adam is so self-confident that he cannot see that the clever Charlotte is taking advantage of both his economic arrogance and his relational blindness, ‘paying him back with the same coin’. The young woman represents a ideal match for him. Perfectly aware of the millionaire’s power and limits, she subtly promotes herself as a perverse custodian of the ‘isolationism’ which rules his private life and his collecting
is born to know no evil – she involuntarily gives Maggie the chance to The Golden Bowl 189 complete her subjective aesthetic apprenticeship by allowing her to revise her superficial relationship with Amerigo. Similarly to the hidden crack in the bowl, Charlotte symbolizes the obstacle, or the disenchantment, that desire has to encounter in order to create value.22 Representing both the poison and the cure for the other characters in the novel, Charlotte is destined to a de-humanization and