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“Delightfully dense”: The art of stupidity in late James

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journal contribution
posted on 08.04.2019, 10:55 authored by Rachel Murray
In its sheer obviousness and inability to conceal itself, stupidity functions as a vital foil to the unscrupulous workings of the intellect in The Spoils of Poynton and The Golden Bowl. This essay examines the cultural and historical context of James’s appropriation of stupidity as a positive force capable of restoring ethical clarity to situations that have become mired in complexity. By tracing the pairing of stupid and intelligent characters, I argue that in contrast to the failed union of Fleda Vetch and Owen Gereth, Bob and Fanny Assingham represent the sublimation of a marriage of opposites into a dialectical union.

History

School

  • The Arts, English and Drama

Department

  • English and Drama

Published in

The Henry James Review

Volume

37

Issue

2

Pages

191 - 203

Citation

MURRAY, R., 2016. “Delightfully dense”: The art of stupidity in late James. The Henry James Review, 37 (2), pp.191-203.

Publisher

© Johns Hopkins University Press

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date

2016-05-20

Notes

This paper was accepted for publication in the journal The Henry James Review and the definitive published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1353/hjr.2016.0011.

ISSN

0273-0340

eISSN

1080-6555

Language

en

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