The Men Who Knew Too Much: Henry James and Alfred Hitchcock

The Men Who Knew Too Much: Henry James and Alfred Hitchcock

by Susan M. Griffin
     
 

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Henry James and Alfred Hitchcock knew too much. Self-imposed exiles fully in the know, they approached American and European society as inside-outsiders, a position that afforded them a kind of double vision. Masters of their arts, manipulators of their audiences, prescient and pathbreaking in their techniques, these demanding and meticulous artists fiercely

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Overview

Henry James and Alfred Hitchcock knew too much. Self-imposed exiles fully in the know, they approached American and European society as inside-outsiders, a position that afforded them a kind of double vision. Masters of their arts, manipulators of their audiences, prescient and pathbreaking in their techniques, these demanding and meticulous artists fiercely defended authorial and directorial control. Their fictions and films are obsessed with knowledge and its powers: who knows what? What is there to know?

The Men Who Knew Too Much innovatively pairs these two greats, showing them to be at once classic and contemporary. Over a dozen major scholars and critics take up works by James and Hitchcock, in paired sets, to explore the often surprising ways that reading James helps us watch Hitchcock and what watching Hitchcock tells us about reading James. A wide-range of approaches offer fresh insights about spectatorship, narrative structure, and cinematic representation, as well as the relationship between technology and art, the powers of silence, sensory-and sensational-experiences, the impact of cognition, and the uncertainty of interpretation. The essays explore the avowal and disavowal of familial bonds, as well as questions of Victorian convention, female agency, and male anxiety. And they fruitfully engage issues related to patriarchy, colonialism, national, transnational, and global identities. The capacious collection, with its brilliant insights and intellectual surprises, is equally compelling in its range and cogency for James readers and film theorists, for Hitchcock fans and James scholars.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Readers will be at once surprised and enlightened by the similarities discovered between Henry James and Alfred Hitchcock. These excellent essays persuasively and lucidly argue for a shared set of preoccupations in the works of the novelist and the filmmaker: preoccupations about personal and national identity, knowledge and authority, sexuality and gender. Each artist is shown to inspire new and important readings of the other. This is an original and highly readable contribution to literary and cultural studies."—Leo Bersani, University of California, Berkeley

"To 'read' these artists in tandem is to appreciate not only the special achievement of each, but the way great artists pursue a dialogue across time, across media, that allows us to honor the distinctive quality of James's narratives from a cinematic perspective, and the roots of Hitchcock's cinematic triumphs in daring novelistic experiments."—Lee Clark Mitchell, Princeton University

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199764433
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
02/13/2012
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Susan Griffin is a Distinguished University Scholar at the University of Louisville.

Alan Nadel is William T. Bryan Chair in American Literature and Culture at the University of Kentucky.

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