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Henry James Goes to War

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Edited By Miroslawa Buchholtz, Dorota Guttfeld and Grzegorz Koneczniak

Within the past decades, Henry James has been seen going to the movies and to Paris, both far more likely destinations for him than battlefields of the modern world. Sending him off to war seems to be a preposterous idea, but the exaggeration inscribed in the title of the present volume is meant to stress the historicity of wars and battles underlying James’s life and work, quite apart from conflict on which literature thrives at all times. The book consists of five parts devoted to various forms and aspects of conflict. It deals with both literal and metaphorical battles of which the author was aware or in which he was involved. Apart from addressing James’s attitude to two major conflicts, the Civil War and World War One, the articles range from critical discussions of James’s biography, criticism, and fiction, to studies of the intertextual connections between his œuvre and works of both past and present authors.
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Henry James, Transatlantic Jewishness, and Cynthia Ozick’s Foreign Bodies

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Karolina Krasuska, University of Warsaw

Cynthia Ozick’s 2010 novel Foreign Bodies is an ultimate corollary of her fascination with Henry James’s oeuvre, her “becom[ing] Henry James” (Ozick 1996a: 275). Her previous works inspired by or related to Henry James’s figure or writing include her first novel Trust (1966) and a much later piece of fiction Dictation (2008). She also authored essays commenting on James’s essayistic writings, especially in “The Lesson of the Master” (1982), “The Question of Our Speech: The Return to Aural Culture” (1984) and “What Henry James Knew” (1993). Whereas Trust is generally inspired by Jamesian style and the novella “Dictation” imagines a fictional meeting between James’s and Conrad’s typists, Ozick’s Foreign Bodies (2010) is a “reframing” of The Ambassadors (1903).

Foreign Bodies in itself spans her magisterial career: it takes on her early, but continuing interest in James, but links it with themes that she has become best known for: American Jewishness. Consequently, James’s “international theme” from the first years of the 20th century becomes rewritten as plot lines revolving around the theme of transatlantic Jewishness in 1952. This shift, which results in Ozick’s staging relations between post-Holocaust East European Jews and American Jews, allows Ozick to make her novel a more effective instrument in cultural criticism of the post-war decade. Also, by introducing Jewishness into her “cover version” of The Ambassadors, she urges us to look at how it is present – or rather almost absent – in the 1903 novel....

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