By George J. Adler
This booklet is a facsimile reprint and should include imperfections akin to marks, notations, marginalia and mistaken pages.
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He finds the key to James in one of the last things he wrote. 'I think we may take the sentence in the scenario of The Ivory Tower, in which James speaks of "the black and merciless things that are behind great possession" as an expression of the ruling fantasy that drove him to write: a sense of evil religious in its intensity'. Like Spender, Greene sees some sort of intuitive connection between the world of James's late novels and the First W odd War- 'they are complete anarchists, these late Jamesian characters, they form the immoral background for that extraordinary period of haphazard violence which anticipated the First World War'; but he sees James's preoccupation as one which transcends modern politics.
He was concerned only with nuances • • . how unlike he is to Sherwood Anderson, an authentic product of American consciousness ! It is rather crude stuff after Lubbock's criticism, and the sweeping generalised indictments reveal a very imperfect reading of James's actual novels, if not a radical ignorance of them. But the fmal reference to Anderson- a comparison obviously intended to be to James's disadvantage- makes clear the motive behind the animus. After a decade of expatriates the feeling was growing that American writers should turn their attention to the 'homely realities' and 'sprawling energy' of American life - to the physical local details of the many places in America which were perhaps without any traditional civilisation and culture, but where people's sufferings were no less real for being comparatively inarticulate.
This was his real subject-matter, and the late works, in effect, comprise a religion of consciousness. Page after page is given to its exploration; characters are ranked according to how high or how low, in perceptiveness and subtlety, are their conscious minds; and the movement of the story progresses as various bundles of consciousness impinge upon one another, attracted or repulsed or drifting. Thus James' system, since I have now made him a metaphysician, has at its heart a certain attitude towards, and hence certain assumptions about, consciousness.
A Practical Grammar of the Latin Language: With Perpetual Exercises in Speaking and Writing by George J. Adler