Studies In Henry James
Nonfiction by R. P. Blackmur
Studies in Henry James collects for the first time all the writings by R. P. Blackmur (1904-1965), a pioneer of New Criticism and major literary force of our century, on Henry James (1843-1916), author of such classic novels as The Europeans, The Portrait of a Lady, and The Ambassadors. Blackmur’s “first elated reading” of James in 1921 left the young man “both confident and desperate in the force of art.” In the ensuing years, his approach to James grew warier, yet “the Master” remained for him a singular “haunt and a presence.” Although his originally projected book for New Directions never materialized, Blackmur did complete articles, essays, and introductions over the years which, assembled here, brilliantly illuminated the wide spectrum of James’s work. Arranged chronologically are “The Critical Prefaces of Henry James” (1934),” “The Sacred Fount” (1942), “In the Country of the Blue” (1943) on James’s conception of his art, “Henry James” (from the 1948 Macmillan Literary History of the United States), “The Loose and Baggy Monsters of Henry James” (1951) on style, and introductions to the eight Laurel editions of James’s novels (1958-64) and to the 1952 Grove Press edition of The Golden Bowl. An appendix contains “The Spoils of Henry James: A Special Case of the Normal,” an unfinished essay, probably composed as a preface to the original New Directions book, and published here for the first time. Blackmur’s consistently lyrical and acute presentations insure the lasting value of Studies in Henry James to both James and Blackmur scholars and to readers first encountering either writer. An historical introduction has been provided by editor Veronica A. Makowsky, who also edited Blackmur’s Henry Adams (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980).