Henry James and the Imagination of Pleasure

Henry James and the Imagination of Pleasure

Tessa Hadley examines how Henry James progressively disentangles himself from the moralizing frame through which English-language novels in the nineteenth century had visualized sexual passion. Hadley argues that his relationship with the European novel tradition was crucial, helping to leave behind the belief that only bad women could be sexual. She explores the emphasis James placed on the power of pleasure and play--themes central to his ambitious goal to represent the privileges and the pains of turn-of-the-century leisure class society.


"...it is a great pleasure to read Tessa Hadley's own prose: not only is her argument finely crafted; it is often eloquent..." The Henry James Review

"Treating primarily the novels of the 1890's, Hadley's welcome book provides an unprecedented analysis of the moral framework James trancended to express sexual passion in his fiction. This volume will deepen understanding of the power and subtleties of the great love affairs in James's fictions; it is an essential work of criticism for all collections of modern English literature." Choice

"...a welcome addition to recent assessments meant to combat our view of James..." English Literature in Transition 1880-1920


2002 Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award Winner
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