By John Bradley
Sheldon M. Novick has written an in depth biographical advent. this can be complimented by means of an essay documenting James's friendships with more youthful males, inclusive of quotations from unpublished letters. different topics contain the impression on James of the emergence of a selected inspiration of 'the gay' and James's reactions to the cultured flow; and there are shut analyses of a lot of James's tales and novels, chosen in order that all of his profession is represented.
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Osmond is saturated with the Paterian heresy. ' He is certainly fastidious - he has tastes, he has sensations; what he lacks are sympathies, and feelings for women. He is all pose, all form without substance, 'a faded rosebud', as Ralph Touchett calls him, and so' a sterile dilettante'. Pater in his Conclusion had said that the individual is isolated, 'each mind keeping as a solitary prisoner its own dream of a world'. It seems constant with this metaphor that Osmond should make his house a prison for his wife, and that he should sequester his daughter in the prison of a nunnery.
His life had been 'abominable' before and after imprisonment, his death James pronounced to be 'miserable'. With Pater dead since 1894, and Wilde virtually so from his trial a year after that, James returned to the subject of aestheticism. When he came to write The Spoils of Poynton in 1897, he perhaps had in mind a lecture Wilde had delivered around England in 1883, 'The House Beautiful'. Originally James intended to call his new novel by that name, a vile phrase that Pater had also used in Appreciations.
Foreign' is in the context a word like Pater's favourite, 'strange'. Roderick Hudson declares, 'we must live as our pulses are timed', echoing Pater's phrase about our being given 'a counted number of pulses only ... of a variegated, dramatic life'. No wonder then that Roderick's first fortnight in Rome is registered by his friend as 'a high aesthetic revel'. He has fallen into the unheroics of dilettantism. Unfortunately, the revel soon turns out to be a drift, and the word 'drift', which is picturesque and approved in Pater, is not so in James.