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The Twentieth-Century World of Henry James

Changes in His Work After 1900

by Adeline R. Tintner

336 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / no illustrations

Literary Studies

  Hardcover / 9780807125342 / May 2000

Conventional analyses of Henry James conclude with the completed novels of the major phase and the revisions of the New York Edition (1907–1909). However, James lived on to write vigorously for nearly a decade longer. In this compelling study, Adeline R. Tintner—perhaps the foremost living James scholar—focuses her expertise on the writer’s final years, exploring how his work developed and how his ideas changed in response to events in the twentieth century.

The twentieth century came to life for James during his long-delayed visit to America in 1904 and 1905, which resulted in his critical study of America, The American Scene (1907), and revitalized his review of his body of work in the famed New York Edition. Tintner explores James’s revisions of his earlier novels and reads James’s late autobiographical writings as a form of experimental fiction that would be the hall-mark of twentieth-century modernism.

Indeed, Tintner explains that James’s final writings demonstrate how he thoroughly embraced the new century and anticipated several of the chief ideas that would dominate modern literature. He reacted to the new economic scene and to the preoccupation with money in his unfinished novel The Ivory Tower and explored the idea of the interaction between historical time and the present with his uncompleted The Sense of the Past. James even relaxed his treatment of sexuality, as is apparent in his suggestion of autoeroticism in “The Figure in the Carpet” and in what seems to be a description of the gay scene in The Sacred Fount. He became a propagandist during World War I, devoting the end of his career to urging American entry into the conflict.

A fitting finale to Tintner’s five astonishing works on “the world of Henry James,” The Twentieth-Century World of Henry James is the definitive volume on the writer’s closing years. Through an amazing excavation of James’s life and work, Tintner uncovers many of the modernist themes that preoccupied him as he entered the new century and that, in turn, were to preoccupy many of the writers who came to maturity in the first half of the twentieth century. 

Adeline R. Tintner, a prolific independent Jamesian scholar, is the author of many books, most recentlyHenry James’s Legacy: The Afterlife of His Figure and Fiction. She lives in New York City.

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