By Sigi Jottkandt
Addresses moral and aesthetic matters in 3 significant works via Henry James.
What is the problem with the ladies in Henry James? within the Portrait of a girl, The Wings of the Dove, and his brief tale "The Altar of the Dead," one lady returns to a monster of a husband, one other dies instead of confront the reality of her lover’s engagement, whereas yet one more stakes her all on having a candle lit for a useless lover, purely to swiftly 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 idea to discover the classy underpinning of the Lacanian moral act, which has been principally missed within the present force to find a Cartesian beginning for the topic because the topic of science.
"If ‘instant classic’ capability something in any respect at the present time, it skill Jöttkandt’s e-book! Henry James is the silent accomplice of Jacques Lacan: by no means pointed out in Lacan’s paintings, he still, in an uncanny means, ‘stages’ all major Lacanian thoughts. Jöttkandt’s publication brings this mystery hyperlink into the open: after studying it, our belief of either Lacan and James will swap essentially. those that freely choose to forget about this e-book are easily people who are bent to freely opt for stupidity!" — Slavoj Zizek
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Additional info for Acting Beautifully: Henry James and the Ethical Aesthetic (SUNY Series in Psychoanalysis and Culture)
And it is out of respect for this negativity expressed as the moral law, rather than for any empirical reason, that Isabel makes her momentous decision at the end of the novel. ”29 She returns simply because she must—she must obey the moral law that obliges her unconditionally. The immediately following question is why the moral law requires Isabel to return to 30 Acting Beautifully Osmond. Why couldn’t the moral law instead allow her to break her marriage contract, set off for America with Caspar, remain in England, or even set up shop with Henrietta?
Epistemologically, this realization mirrors the dilemma of the Kantian subject confronted with an object world that is inherently unknowable as it is in-itself. What we see are “representations” of a world whose reality is forever inaccessible to our cognition. Ethically, this plants the subject firmly within the laws of the phenomenal world: construed as an “appearance” even to itself (as Isabel discovers when she flounders looking for an adequate “expression” of herself ) the phenomenal subject finds itself determined by the empirical laws of nature.
Touchett becoming an “old woman without memories,” while news of Warburton’s impending marriage gives Isabel the feeling “as if she had heard of Lord Warburton’s death” (PL 474). Ralph’s death 28 Acting Beautifully seems to have inflected everything around her, giving a strange ghostly kind of vitality to inanimate objects, while seeming to suck the life from the living. Waiting for Mrs. Touchett, Isabel grows nervous and scared, “as scared as if the objects about her had begun to show for conscious things, watching her trouble with grotesque grimaces” (PL 471).