Show Less
Restricted access

Searching for the Figure in the Carpet in the Tales of Henry James

Reflections of an Ordinary Reader


Benjamin Newman

Undertaken as if by an ordinary reader concentrating upon fundamentals of feeling and thought in the tales of Henry James, this study by Professor Newman is a probing, questioning, analytical search for the Jamesian figure, for the ultimate messages communicated by James about his life and the world. Joining this distinctive perspective, a personalized style, and solid scholarly exploration, the book probes for meaning behind visions and metaphors over an expanse from Daisy Miller to The Jolly Corner, from the early years to the closing stage, the final years of recollection. As the odyssey progresses, its findings confirm for the author his conviction that there is indeed a «figure in the carpet», a consistent, coherent, and unified vision of James's life and of man's that runs through the tales, but modified in certain ways as the years passed. It is a complex design which, once uncovered and grasped, enables the reader to penetrate James's symbolic system, to resolve the so-called ambiguities and obscurities so often ascribed to him, and to interpret with confidence what James is saying to us as he writes about life and society, about art and personal passion and death.