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Reading Group

Seminar: Henry James: The Major Phase, with Jane Mallison

Wednesday, September 28, 2022 - 11:00 AM Wednesday, October 12, 2022 - 11:00 AM Wednesday, October 26, 2022 - 11:00 AM Wednesday, November 9, 2022 - 11:00 AM
Whitridge Room | for members only | $75 for the four sessions | registration required

Literary scholar F. O. Matthiessen created the term “ The Major Phase” to describe the last three major novels of Henry James, published from 1902-1904: The Ambassadors, The Wings of the Dove, and The Golden Bowl. This course will offer two sessions on each of those first two titles: The Ambassadors and The Wings of the Dove. (Their allusive names come, respectively, from Holbein’s painting “The Ambassadors” and the Book of Psalms.) We will read the two in the order they were written, the reverse of the order of their publication. With these two novels James returns to the international theme employed in the 1881 edition of The Portrait of a Lady and deepens his exploration of the hearts and minds of characters grappling with personal hopes and societal expectations regarding sex and money.

James’s so-called “late style” offers both a challenge and a reward to us as readers. One anachronistic critic terms James’s sentences “Faulknerian,” but most serious readers of novels for over a century have reveled in their mastery of “the major phase.” We’ll enjoy getting two-thirds of the way there.

This seminar takes place over four Wednesdays, each at 11:00 AM in the Whitridge Room:
September 28
October 12
October 26
November 9

Interested but not yet ready to register? Get a reminder closer to the date, space permitting.

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