The Trial of Curiosity: Henry James, William James, and the Challenge of Modernity / Edition 1

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Overview

In this important revisionist study, Posnock integrates literary and psychological criticism with social and cultural theory to make a major advance in our understanding of the life and thought of two great American figures, Henry and William James. Challenging canonical images of both brothers, Posnock is the first to place them in a rich web of cultural and intellectual affiliations comprised of a host of American and European theorists of modernity. A startling new Henry James emerges from a cross - disciplinary dialogue, which features Veblen, Suntan, Bourn, and Dewey, as well as Weber, Simmer, Benjamin, and Adorn. While contributing to current debates about the responsibility of the intellectual, Posnock's work will fascinate the general reader as well as literary and cultural critics and historians.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An altogether worthwhile, serious, and original approach to the Jameses."--Choice

"An erudite and engaging book....[A] remarkable achievement. Posnock...reminds us that our conceptual experience of modernity owes as much to Henry James as to his brother."--Journal of American History

"A brilliant study--a remarkable synthesis of cultural history, close reading, and theoretical speculation. It will make an important contribution to James studies, and an equally significant contribution to our understanding of American culture, to debates on modernity, and to discussions of the possibilities and problems of cultural criticism itself."--Jonathan Freedman, Yale University

"This is a major work of criticism, a...brilliant reconfiguration of literary culture and of literary modernism at the turn into the 20th century, and it offers some of the best interpretations I have ever read of Henry and William James, and of many attendant figures like Howard Sturgis, Santayana, and Adorno."--Richard Poirier, Rutgers University

"Posnock manages to provide an intellectual as well as an ideological context for the challenge of modernity. The result is a rich mosaic of quotations and commentary, inlaid with diverse elements from psychology, fiction, philosophy, literary history, autobiography, and cultural theory."--American Literature

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195071245
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/28/1991
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 382
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Master and Worm; Anarchist and Idiot 3
Part I The Trial of Curiosity
2. Henry and William James and the Trial of Curiosity 27
3. "On a Certain Blindness": Henry James and the Politics of Cultural Response 54
4. "The Religion of Doing": Breaking the Aura of Henry James 80
5. Abolishing the Logic of Identity: Contexts and Consequences 105
Part II The Challenge of Modernity
6. "Adventures of the Critical Spirit": Rereading The American Scene 141
7. "At the Active Pitch": Mimetic Selfhood in James's Autobiography 167
8. Lifting the Yoke of the Genteel: Henry James, George Santayana, and Howard Sturgis 193
9. Going to Smash: Violence in The Ambassadors 221
10. "The Amazing Hotel-World": The American Scene of 1904 250
Coda: The Politics of Nonidentity 285
Notes 293
Works Cited 337
Index 349
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