Henry James, 1916-1945 (3/1/18)
What did “Henry James” come to mean in the years between his death and the commencement of World War II?
A partial history of the period might note that The Ivory Tower, The Sense of the Past, and The Middle Years as well as the essay and short story collections Within the Rim, Traveling Companions, A Landscape Painter, and Master Eustace were all published posthumously, receiving mixed reviews. “Appreciations,” composed by Joseph Conrad, Percy Lubbock, and John Cooper Powys, appeared. Literary criticism—both positive and negative—also followed quickly upon James’s death, with books by Rebecca West and Ford Madox Ford in 1916, Joseph Warren Beach in 1918, and, perhaps most influentially, Percy Lubbock in 1921. Nineteen eighteen saw an issue of the Little Review dedicated to James with essays by T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.
Critical attention waned in the years that followed, with Van Wyck Brooks and Vernon Parrington providing negative assessments. It has been argued that “the James Revival” took place only after World War II; nonetheless, between 1916 and 1945, new selections of James’s letters, critical essays, prefaces, and short stories appeared, while (some) novels remained in print or were reprinted. “Henry James” also appeared in omnibus volumes that collected literary “gems,” short stories, and ghost stories, as well as in American literature anthologies. In 1934 Hound and Horn published an “Homage” to James, with contributors including Richard Blackmur, Marianne Moore, and Edmund Wilson. F. O. Matthiessen’s Major Phase appeared in 1944. F. R. Leavis issued The Great Tradition in 1948.
This HJR special forum issue invites contributions on the many versions of Henry James that appeared from 1916 to 1945. Possible topics include but are not limited to:
- Which of James’s writings were available to readers at a given point and in what form
- “Forgotten” James
- Who read James and when
- James’s influence, positive or negative, on Joseph Conrad, T. S. Eliot, Ford Madox Ford, Graham Greene, Marianne Moore, Leo Tolstoy, Hugh Walpole, H. G. Wells, Rebecca West, P. G. Wodehouse, Virginia Woolf, and many others
- James’s varying critical reputation over the period
- Jamesian James: which James writings were seen as characteristic
- Good James/Bad James
- The novel as Art, the Art Novel
- James as innovator, proto-Modernist, Modernist
- James in relation to changing ideas of Realism
- Old School James
- James as apostate American, Europeanized cosmopolitan, paleface
- “Henry James” and Henry James as (implicitly? explicitly?) homosexual
- Jamesian models of literary criticism
- James and Modernist poets, a Jamesian poetics
Contributions should adhere to current MLA style. One-page proposals or short (10-12 pages) essays should be sent electronically by March 1, 2018 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please identify your manuscript as a Henry James, 1916-1945 Forum submission.