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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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Ghostly Confrontations and Inner Conflict: An Autobiographical Reading of “Owen Wingrave”

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Mary C. Boyington, Aix Marseille Université

In Henry James’s ghost tales, encounters with the supernatural are confrontations with ghosts of the past, bringing to light the unseen elements deeply buried in the unconscious: memories, consequences, decisions, obligations, or regrets are embodied in supernatural form. In Henry James and the Ghostly, T.J. Lustig explains that ghosts are “both real and imaginary, literal and figurative, dead and alive, full of meaning but also obscure, out of the past and yet also within the present” (1994: 1). James’s body of work cannot be examined without exploring the limits of the ghostly included in many of his works outside the collections of ghost tales, a genre which James often dismissed as “pot-boilers” or as simple little pieces for literary magazines. His notebook entries for “Owen Wingrave” include the idea for a simplistic story:

It is a question of a little subject for the Graphic – so I mustn’t make it ‘psychological’ – they understand that no more than a donkey understands a violin. [...] Even if one could introduce a supernatural element in it – make it, I mean, a little ghost-story; […]. It seems to me one might make some haunting business that would give it a colour without being ridiculous. (1987: 66–68)

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