By Andrew Cutting (auth.)
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Additional resources for Death in Henry James
That James did not attempt to fix the time-scheme in the course of revision suggests that, on the contrary, the problems may perhaps be more deep-seated than he allows. James's editorial policy in the New York Edition revisions, demonstrated for the first time in revising Roderick Hudson, is not to alter the plot, for example by introducing or removing characters. But surely this policy was not simply preconceived and then applied to the deficiencies of Roderick Hudson. At least as likely is that James's perceptions of the novel's deficiencies at the outset of producing the New York Edition in part created the policy.
The humanistic basis of a heroic interpretation of Hyacinth's suicide is stated most directly by Lionel Trilling in The Liberal ImaginationP Writing in the late forties, when James was being acclaimed as the great American novelist, Trilling argues that The Princess Casamassima is a clear-sighted diagnosis of the political and spiritual conditions of modernity. James, the master of moral realism, reveals uncomfortable truths that are neglected by the prevailing American intellectual tradition of liberalism.
He fails quantitatively, because he does not continue to produce. Yet the novel also implies a qualitative standard, by which Roderick's handful of large, idealised sculptures are superior to the feminine flower-paintings, diminutive watercolours, and cynical sculptures churned out by the other artists in the novel. During the course of his life, Roderick produces what we gather are at least a handful of sculptures, such as his Adam, worthy of serious critical 26 Death in Henry James consideration.