By Sigi Jottkandt
Addresses moral and aesthetic matters in 3 significant works through Henry James.
What is the problem with the ladies in Henry James? within the Portrait of a woman, The Wings of the Dove, and his brief tale "The Altar of the Dead," one girl returns to a monster of a husband, one other dies instead of confront the reality of her lover’s engagement, whereas one more stakes her all on having a candle lit for a lifeless lover, purely to in a timely fashion reject it. Exploring those unusual offerings, Sigi Jöttkandt argues that the singularity of those acts lies of their moral nature, and that the moral precept concerned can't be divorced from the query of aesthetics. She combines shut readings of James with suggestive excursions via Kantian aesthetics and set concept to discover the classy underpinning of the Lacanian moral act, which has been mostly ignored within the present force to find a Cartesian starting place for the topic because the topic of science.
"If ‘instant classic’ ability whatever in any respect this day, it capability Jöttkandt’s ebook! Henry James is the silent companion of Jacques Lacan: by no means pointed out in Lacan’s paintings, he still, in an uncanny approach, ‘stages’ all major Lacanian recommendations. Jöttkandt’s publication brings this mystery hyperlink into the open: after analyzing it, our belief of either Lacan and James will switch essentially. those that freely choose to forget about this e-book are easily those people who are bent to freely decide on stupidity!" — Slavoj Zizek
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Extra resources for Acting Beautifully: Henry James and the Ethical Aesthetic (SUNY Series in Psychoanalysis and Culture)
For me, the vexed question of Isabel’s return is resolved only by understanding her decision as the act of a transcendentally free subject acting solely in accordance with the moral law, that is, a strictly ethical act in Kantian terms. To explain this, let us turn to the moment where Isabel finally discovers the truth of her relationship with Osmond and Merle. The turning point occurs in chapter 42 where, musing on the arrested image of 24 Acting Beautifully Osmond and Merle in a stance of greater than expected familiarity, Isabel begins to realize the truth of her situation.
Armstrong cites Ralph’s suspicion that Isabel has chosen Osmond as a result of a “fine theory” she has invented about him but, as Armstrong puts it, the problem is “it is too much a theory, and it is simply too perfect” (113). He explains, “[a]lthough she is binding her will by devoting herself to Osmond, Isabel’s pride in accepting restraints blocks any sense that she is actually going to be limited. Romantically imaginative still, she senses only the possibilities of which she will avail herself ” (113).
The deep insight that James has us discern through Osmond is the way the fantasy of aesthetic reconciliation remains just that, a fantasy that purports seamlessly to integrate the realms of nature and freedom on the basis of a perceived identity while at the same time veiling the underlying violence by which this apparent synthesis is achieved. But just as important concerning our tendency to read The Portrait of a Lady in terms of a novel of development is the way James’s Osmond simultaneously directs a revitalized attention to the mechanisms by which the Bildungsroman itself secures its reconciliatory narrative goals.
Acting Beautifully: Henry James and the Ethical Aesthetic (SUNY Series in Psychoanalysis and Culture) by Sigi Jottkandt