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Henry James and The Ideology of Culture

Om Prakash Grewal (Author)
Synopsis Critics have generally tended to underestimate the ideological content of James's Values. It is assumed that his intelligence was too "fine" and supple to be afflicted by any dogmatic ideological bias. Yet, on crucial issues, James did show himself ideologically committed. His tacit assumptions, preferences and attachments come directly into focus on some major issues of large social and political significance. The most powerful critique of the disruptions in social life caused by industrialism had emerged in England, and in a somewhat less articulate form in America, as the tradition of culture. Faced with the tensions and distortions of contemporary social life, writers like Mill and Arnold in England, and the patrician intellectuals in America, began to Modify their liberal Values. This did not, as a rule, involve repudiation of the general aims and hopes of liberalism. The ideal of "culture " occupied a central place in their social thinking. The social attitudes comprising " conservative liberalism " cover only the modifications in the fundamental liberal ideas about the freedom of the individual, his role in society, and the modes of his self-fulfillment. In this book, the chapter on The Princess Casamassima deals with the implications of the conflict between an archaist revolution and the fabric of civilisation, and examines James's treatment of the central issues raised in the novel : mass poverty, human exploitation and civilisation's graces. The chapter on The Bostonians considers the impact of James's general scepticism about radical democratic reform in his treatment of the feminist movement. The Chapter on The Tragic Muse examines the implications of the antithesis James sets up between art and the " world ". This study attempts to show that only by taking due cognisance of the ideological dimensions of James's emphasis culture, we can hope to understand the particular coherence of his novels and make an objective assessment of his artistic achievement.
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About the author

Om Prakash Grewal

Om Prakash Grewal (b.June 6, 1937, Bamla, Haryana, India ), got his Doctorate from the university of Rochester, New York, U.S.A. He was professor and Head of Department of English , M.D. University , Rohtak and thereafter Chairman, Faculty of Arts and Languages, Kurukshetra University ( India ). Currently , he is Professor of English ( Shakespeare, American Fiction and Literary Criticism ) at Kurukshetra University . Subject on which he has written include F.R. Leavis, George Lukacs. Henry James, Kamla Das and contemporary theories of fiction. Prof. Grewal is also a distinguished name in Hindi literary criticism and has written extensively on contemporary poetry, fiction and aspects of literary theory. He is currently the editor of Naya Path the Hindi Quarterly which is representative voice of radical writing and opinion. Dr. Grewal is also the General Secretary of the Janvadi Lekhak Sangh, an All-India organisation of Hindi and Urdu writers.

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Bibliographic information

Title Henry James and The Ideology of Culture
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.1990
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 8171880045
length 246p.