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Suicide in Henry James's Fiction


Mary Joseph

This book is a detailed analysis of self-willed death (physical as well as symbolic) in Henry James's fiction, in the light of penetrating studies of death in general, and suicide in particular, by such notable figures as Emile Durkheim, Edwin Schneidman, A. Alvarez and Philippe Aries. The study sheds light on the sociology and the psychology of self-destruction during a time when suicide was prominent in the fictional and real worlds of creative writers. It also shows that in the delineation of his suicidal characters James reflects attitudes toward self-destruction prevalent in his time. Autobiography, cultural and social displacement, and failed quests further lend cohesiveness to a private mythology which establishes Henry James as a myth-maker.