Henry James, George du Maurier, and the Intermedial Scene
This chapter examines the emergence of Henry James’s late style from an unusual perspective—his friendship with George du Maurier, whose Trilby was one of the bestselling illustrated novels of the 1890s. Looking at James’s late work through the lens of “Trilbymania” reveals the importance of “mass pictorialism” to James—the citation or “realization” of a scene or situation across theater, film, texts, photography, and illustrations—as he set about retooling his literary method in the wake of his failure as a dramatist. The distinctively intermedial quality of early mass culture inspired James’s distinctive grammar of latency. The chapter also looks at the energies of intermedial transformation as lying at the root of James’s utopian social imaginary, in which sexual identity and selfhood are understood to be irreducible to psychology.
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