Henry James Against the Aesthetic Movement
Essays on the Middle and Late Fiction
Edited by David Garrett Izzo and Daniel T. O'Hara
Writer Henry James (1843–1916) was born in America but preferred to live in Europe; he finally become a British subject near the end of his life. His status as a permanent outsider is responsible for the recurring themes in his writing dealing with European sophistication (decadence) compared to American lack of sophistication (or innocence). He is respected in modern times for his psychological insight, for being able to reveal his characters’ deepest motivations.
These 11 essays, along with an introduction and an afterword, examine James’s work through the prism of the author’s latest style. Topics the contributing authors address include the Henry James revival of the 1930s, three of James’s male aesthetics, women in his works, literary forgery, and parallels with the career and views of Margaret Oliphant. Three essays delve into issues of representation in art and fiction, then three more explore decadence, identity and homosexuality.
Review: The essays in this stimulating collection consider some of James's reactions to "British Aestheticism (and decadence) of the late Victorian period," showing how James "interpreted the English upper class and their--to him--decadent morality and attitude through his writings." Individual essays treat such topics as James's portraits of decadent men (Gilbert Osmond, Mark Ambient, Gabriel Nash) and of the women isolated by such aesthetes (as in "The Author of Beltraffio"), and his literary relations with well-known contemporaries like Margaret Oliphant and Max Beerbohm.
James's attitude toward homosexuality and aestheticism--as revealed in his view of the work and career of John Addington Symonds and, more especially, his sometimes rivalrous relationship with Oscar Wilde--is, inevitably,
central to the story of his engagement with the aesthetic movement in Britain.
Reflecting a variety of critical approaches and disciplines, the essays in this collection suggest the wide spectrum of views and interests in contemporary "James studies." Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. -- J. J. Benardette, New School University, Choice
His Era, His Gang, and the Legacy of the Truly Strong Man
reevaluation of Isherwood's literary achievements in the light
of his Vedantism. Nominated for both Phi Beta Kappa and MLA
awards in Literary Criticism.
in 2000 by South Carolina University Press www.sc.edu/uscpress
Isherwood: His Era, His Gang, and the Legacy of the Truly
Strong Man is a lively and well-informed study that
integrates Isherwood's social and historical context with
the themes and methods of his writings. It is as illuminating
about the writings of Isherwood's friends W.H. Auden and
Edward Upward as it is about Isherwood's novels and his
journals and his writings on Vedanta.
--Edward Mendelson, Columbia University
first study of Christopher Isherwood since the publication
of his diaries, David Garrett Izzo's new book demonstrates
how Isherwood amde his life into his art. Using Insights
from philosophy, psychology, and mysticism, Izzo examines
Isherwood's work and his influence on friends ... such as
W.H. Auden and Stephen Spender and on future generations.
Izzo has made a significant contribution to Isherwood's
legacy as his centenary approaches.
--James J. Berg and Chris Freeman, editors, The Isherwood
Century and Conversations with Christopher Isherwood.
Offering the first comprehensive study of Isherwood's work
in over 20 years, Izzo says that his study "does not
claim Christopher Isherwood invented the Truly Strong Man,
but that Isherwood helped shape him." The author makes
good use of Isherwood's diaries, and he sees the novelist's
personal and literary development as clearly connected.
Izzo gives full attention to isherwood's Vedantic philosophy,
and he does not limit his review of Isherwood's themes to
his early relationship to Auden, Spender, and Day Lewis.
He argues that Isherwood's writings consistently confront
the nature of effective masculinity, a concept that in the
1930s implied choosing between political power and passivity
but that later generations saw as more clearly a reflection
of philosophic choice, sexual identity, and a balance between
emotional honesty and personal actions; this is a volume
for academic readers at all levels and for the general public,
--D. A. Barton, California State University Long Beach.
by Toby Johnson, White Crane Journal
David Izzo's biography of Isherwood is part bio, part summary
of the author's work, part in-depth literary analysis, and
part spiritual philosophy. It's an impressive and interesting
book. This is because Izzo's style manages to weave together
so many themes and so many sources and because his subject
had done precisely the same thing with his own life.
It becomes clear very early in this book that Christopher
Isherwood and his gang were remarkably self-aware and self-analyzing.
We discover that from very early in his life, Isherwood
was treating his own experience as matter for journalism.
His father, Frank, who was killed in WWI in 1915 when Isherwood
was only 11, had "published" a family newspaper
called "The Toy-Dra wer Times" every morning,
illustrated, about young Chris's life. His mother, Kathleen,
helped him write his first "book" at age 6 called
The History of My Friends, turning history into personal
myth and fantasy.
In his last year at St. Edmund's Preparatory (high school),
he met a boy who would change his life forever, alter the
course of British literary history and give name both to
the gang of friends and an entire generation, Wystan Hugh
Auden. At St. Edmund's he also met his life-long friend
and first collaborator, Edward Upward, with whom he wrote
a series of subjective and obscurantist stories, peppered
with nonsense words and set in a fantasy world called Mortmere.
Throughout his life, Isherwood continued to craft fiction
based on these early experiences. He wrote about himself
and his friends in the third person, sometimes using pseudonyms.
He commented on history and meaning by placing himself and
his experiences in the center of a fictionalized world.
He also kept diaries and later in his life wrote commentaries
about his own work. And, because he and Auden and their
friends Stephen Spender, Cecil Day Lewis, Louis MacNeice,
etc. became important literary figures and popular writers,
other people, critics and literary analysts, also wrote
Part of what is remarkable about Izzo's analysis is that
he has managed to piece together and explain all the many
perspectives on Isherwood's life and personality development.
This phenomenon of writing about himself, only slightly
veiled, is apparent in Isherwood's most familiar work The
Berlin Stories which ultimately became the musical and movie
Caberet. The story of William Bradshaw, British writer in
pre-Nazi Germany, is the story of Christopher Isherwood
in Berlin. The first dramatized version of the story was
called I Am a Camera. That's precisely how he decided to
report on what he'd discovered lurking behind the sexual
liberation and sophistication. What isn't quite so clear
in the literary creations is that Isherwood went to Berlin
because of what Auden told him he'd find there: boys. Other
people, critics and literary analysts, also wrote about
Isherwood acts from love and tells the truth; he passes
Tests and proves himself, but not out of fear or neurosis
(Isherwood and his gang grew up in the newly psychologically-sophisticated
world announced by Sigmund Freud); his self-consciousness
allows him to tell the truth. The Truly Weak Man acts from
fear, in order to hide, turning self-consciousness into
Two pivotal experiences in Isherwood's later life were meeting
Swami Prabhavananda, the apostle of Ramakrishna who came
to America to teach the Hindu-inspired wisdom of Vedanta,
and Don Bachardy, the young man who would remain Isherwood's
lover and life-partner from 1953 to his death in 1986.Isherwood's
last book was My Guru and His Disciple. The title, of course,
referred to Prabhavananda and Isherwood, speaking of himself
in third person. It recounts the author's spiritual development
and one-time effort to live as a Hindu monk. Though he preferred
life with Bachardy to life as a celibate, he turned the
quest to be Truly Strong to that to be truly spiritual and
to live out of religious wisdom.
David Izzo's analysis of Isherwood's life and quest is impressive.
As I try here to review it, I discover it's so rich in detail
it is almost impossible to summarize. That's both its strength
and its weakness, the problem created by Isherwood's self-conscious,
self-analyzing, self-referential style. It's hard to keep
track of what was real and what was fictionalized, of who
was Isherwood the man and who was Isherwood the character,
acting under pseudonym. Readers and fans of Christopher
Isherwood's are likely to thoroughly enjoy this book, finding
in it a level of meaning they may not have seen in the writer's
creations. The casual reader may find it daunting, but at
the same time intriguing. It inspires curiosity and reverence
for the life of a homosexual man, born in a time when that
was still totally verboten, who becomes, partly through
spirituality and partly through his commitment to honesty
and self-analysis, Truly Strong.
The Writings of Richard Stern:
of an Intellectual Everyman
Published in 2002 by McFarland Publishing http://www.mcfarlandpub.com
fifty years, the American Richard Stern has been praised
as a “writer’s writer.” His collected stories in Noble Rot
1949–1989 earned him a Book of the Year Award from the Chicago
Sun-Times, adding to his recognition as one of America’s
most acclaimed writers of fiction in novels and short stories.
study of Stern’s life and writings discusses major themes
Stern has dealt with, explores the issue of fictional autobiography
as it relates to Stern’s work, and analyzes each of his
published novels and short stories from Golk (1960) to Pacific
Tremors and What Is What Was (both 2001). An interview with
Richard Stern is included.
Published spring 2003 by McFarland Publishing www.mcfarlandpub.com
Auden’s life and work were perhaps best explained and condensed
in the words of Edward Mendelson, Auden’s literary executor,
when he remarked, “[Auden] grew up in a household in which
the scientific inquiries of his father maintained an uneasy
truce with the ritualized religion of his mother.” Indeed,
science and religion were dominant themes in Auden’s life
and work, which for him were oftentimes one and the same.
Auden was hailed as the new T.S. Eliot and as the “coming”
man, greatly influencing the future generations of angry
young men with his thoughts on science, religion, and the
relationship between the two.
Auden is considered by many to be among the major poets
of the 20th century, but he also wrote plays (with Christopher
Isherwood),essays and opera librettos. This A-Z guide covers
his life and work in its entirety, featuring several hundred
articles, varying in length from a few lines to a few pages,
on the themes and subjects of his work (e.g., science,religion),
the people he knew or was influenced by (e.g., T.S. Eliot,
Edward Upward, Stephen Spender), and various publications
(e.g.,books, journals) that have featured his work. Most
of the articles included were written either by Izzo (The
Writings of Richard Stern)or by other Auden Scholars.
The volume is illustrated throughout with photographs of
Auden's contemporaries and literary works. Bottom
Line Although many libraries would have appreciated
the option to purchase this resource as a more affordable
paperback, its comprehensiveness sets it above other one-volume
works on literary figures and makes it worth the steep price,
especially for college libraries -
Denise Johnson, Bradley Univ., Peoria, IL
book is an exhaustive reference to W.H. Auden. Those new
to Auden and his writing will find the work a comprehensive
introduction, while Auden scholars will appreciate the quick
access it offers to the details of all his poems, plays,
libretti, and other pieces of writing. It also includes
entries on the people who were closest and most important
to Auden, including fellow writers Christopher Isherwood,
Stephen Spender, C. Day Lewis, Edward Upward, and T.S. Eliot,
as well as significant events in his life, such as his arrival
in America, his vision of agape, and his search in science
and religion for answers to the deep questions of life and
by Mcfarland Publishing, Fall 2003
and accessible reference work will serve Isherwood scholars
who need quick access to people, places, novels, stories,
essays and plays, introduce Isherwood to those who know little
of him, expand the knowledge of the literate general reader,
and refresh teachers of literature with Isherwood details.
on Isherwoods most influential friends, including W.H.
Auden, Aldous Huxley and Stephen Spender, are significant.
Included are all of the monumental roles Isherwood
exemplified during his lifewriter, rebel, gay-activist
hero, and proud exponent of the Eastern philosophy known as
Vedanta. Bold-faced terms and names throughout signify full