417 – When the Man and the Style are One: The World of Henry James

Term: November 10–December 15
Time: Wednesdays 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. EST
Credits: 1
Instructor: Tracy Lee Simmons

“The best part of a writer’s biography,” wrote Nabokov, “is not the record of his adventures but the story of his style.” Henry James—AKA ‘The Master’—heightened the reach of his style and made himself perhaps the most profound and far-ranging composer of fiction in his day, which straddled the 19th and 20th centuries. We will find that adventure and style are not opposed: the style is the adventure, the right word the discovery. Our purpose will be to read closely (and, I hope, penetratingly) a few of James’s masterly short stories. Together we will discover why one could spend an entire year on just one of his stories—or even on just one of his finely carved sentences. We will meet a few of his characters, work through some of his intricately webbed plots, and try to live in his world, to imbibe its atmosphere; to learn of its duties, beliefs, ideas, notions, customs, refinements; and taste its wines.