It is now a well-established fact that Henry James’s Gothic or supernatural fiction in general, from The Romance of Certain Old Clothes, his earliest ghost story (1868), to The Jolly Corner (1908), his last, far from representing a lesser or peripheral form of writing, is integral to the Jamesian canon, connected as it is to the great dynamic forces which play through his work in its entirety. A key figure of 19th-century literary realism, an unusual and unanchored American who enjoyed a restless, peripatetic upbringing, James throughout his career wrote eighteen tales that deploy either explicitly or implicitly images of the ghostly. Given James’s disturbing explorations of the dark side of human nature, his recurrent exploration of the disquieting discrepancy between social appearances and hidden personal realities, it is no surprise that even in his realist major novels metaphors and tropes drawn from the Gothic abound. Central to much of James’s fiction are not only renunciatory gestures, scruples of consciousness, advances and retreats, but silent wars between people who hate where they pretend to love, who devour where they feign to give, and who negate where they seem to help. Written while he was in Cambridge where, as he remarked to his brother William, life was “about as lively as the inner sepulchre”, The Romance of Certain Old Clothes, despite the initial light tone of a comedy of manners, is a sharp-edged anatomy of jealousy, rapacity and bitter rivalry over love between two sisters with a spectacularly Gothic closure in which retributive justice is finally dealt. Though at the time James was only twenty-five, this eerie tale already shows an author of great imaginative scope, vigilant in his methods, dark in his concerns.

"The Chest in the attic: Envy and Revenge in The Romance of Certain Old Clothes"

M. Vanon Alliata
2017-01-01

Abstract

It is now a well-established fact that Henry James’s Gothic or supernatural fiction in general, from The Romance of Certain Old Clothes, his earliest ghost story (1868), to The Jolly Corner (1908), his last, far from representing a lesser or peripheral form of writing, is integral to the Jamesian canon, connected as it is to the great dynamic forces which play through his work in its entirety. A key figure of 19th-century literary realism, an unusual and unanchored American who enjoyed a restless, peripatetic upbringing, James throughout his career wrote eighteen tales that deploy either explicitly or implicitly images of the ghostly. Given James’s disturbing explorations of the dark side of human nature, his recurrent exploration of the disquieting discrepancy between social appearances and hidden personal realities, it is no surprise that even in his realist major novels metaphors and tropes drawn from the Gothic abound. Central to much of James’s fiction are not only renunciatory gestures, scruples of consciousness, advances and retreats, but silent wars between people who hate where they pretend to love, who devour where they feign to give, and who negate where they seem to help. Written while he was in Cambridge where, as he remarked to his brother William, life was “about as lively as the inner sepulchre”, The Romance of Certain Old Clothes, despite the initial light tone of a comedy of manners, is a sharp-edged anatomy of jealousy, rapacity and bitter rivalry over love between two sisters with a spectacularly Gothic closure in which retributive justice is finally dealt. Though at the time James was only twenty-five, this eerie tale already shows an author of great imaginative scope, vigilant in his methods, dark in his concerns.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3696621
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