Chapters of experience studies in modern American by Gordon Taylor

By Gordon Taylor

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1 was tasting, mystically, of the very essence of the old Southern idea - the hugest fallacy, as it hovered there to one's backward, one's ranging vision, for which hundreds of thousands of men had ever laid down their lives. 17 'Thus, by a turn of my hand [now, writing], or of my head [then, seeing], interest was evoked,' the sine qua non by James's own definition of the fictive, and here the nonfictive, art. ' To be sure he remains a conscious outsider, by turns hesitant and presumptuous in approaching the Southern predicament.

Association does, at Mount Vernon, simply what it likes with US,14 the artist's imagination no longer the shaping force, but itself a part of the shaped material of the scene. The feeling is one 'other than the aesthetic,' of sheer absorption into the moment and the place, with the persona's 'interference' enriching rather than disrupting the writer's subject. The question of criticism - architectural, for example, a recurrent index of James's dissatisfaction with America - is rendered irrelevant, as an interest in the structure deepens into a communion with its original occupant: 'it is not the possessive case, but the straight, serene nominative .

It TUns deeper still than the Chapters of Experience: James 39 communions at Concord and Mount Vernon with America's political and literary past. Only James's communion in the opening chapter with the familial past at the Mount Auburn graveside, where his quest for a new relation to the national present may be said to begin, is as charged with jointly personal and historical verdict. ing of which has turned out after all to reside in an essentially autobiographical act. In accounting for James's failure to complete his formal autobiography, Leon Edel states that James had achieved solitude in his art; but the subject of his art had always been family relations, and personal relations.

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