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Sexuality and Textuality in Henry James

Reading Through the Virginal


Lloyd Davis

Using Freudian and post-Freudian theories, Henry James's fiction is reinterpreted as an arena of linguistic and sexual interaction. Through readings of novels including The American and The Golden Bowl, it is argued that James's work, like Freud's itself, can be read as representative and revealing of social and psychological forces, and then reread as a product of these same forces. The emphasis is not biographical but, through employing such theorists as Lacan and Kristeva, textual, wherein textuality becomes the field of disclosure for sexuality. The traditional Jamesian narrative of the passage from innocence is reformulated as both the characterized virgins' and the texts' entrance into the complexities of the sociosexual order.
Henry James - Watch and Ward - The American - The Spoils of Poynton - The Golden Bowl - literary theory - sexuality - psychoanalysis - Freud - Lacan.