Article published in:Keeping Ourselves Alive
[Journal of Narrative and Life History 3:2/3] 1993
► pp. 127–137
The Rhetoric of Consciousness in Henry James
Abstract Although traditionally viewed from a phenomenological perspective, Henry James's compositional device of the center of consciousness can be understood rhetorically as a representational strategy that illustrates the problematics of figurative language and causality. The Jamesian reflector does not simply "re-flect" but crucially intervenes in the causal logic of the texts it claims to focalize. The reflector's relation to the material he or she mediates is one of catachresis, or of "translation," of figurative transfer without a nonfigurative ground. But the rhetorical consequences of this catachrestic mediation cannot be reconciled with James's claims for the center of consciousness as the formal and meta-physical ground of his fictions. James's center of consciousness texts typically reach a representational impasse that thematizes this incompatibility and sacri-fices the central consciousness himself or herself in an allegory of this rhetorical situation. (Literary criticism, rhetorical approach)
Published online: 04 August 2015
Rowe, J. C.