Alternate Author Name(s)

Sheldon M. Grebstein

Document Type


Date of Award



James, Henry, Criticism and Interpretation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


English, General Literature, and Rhetoric

First Advisor

William B. Stein

Second Advisor

Mario A. Di Cesare


In the following essays, I attempt to examine the nineteen earliest tales of Henry James as artistic experiments in the manipulation of language. Accordingly, my work represents a creative, rather than a scholarly treatment of the subject, an approach particularly warranted by the paucity of imaginative critical effort expended on these stories up to the present. A comprehensive cross section of what has been written by others, however, is summarized in an extended footnote on the initial pages of each critique, with full references to the sources documented in the bibliography. Hopefully, this concise method of annotation will serve several purposes: first, to direct readers efficiently to as wide as possible a variety of divergent interpretations of the tales; second, to illustrate how lightly certain stories have been touched upon by critics. Most importantly, though, it may help to clarify the choice of the term "language" as the pivot of my dissertation topic, by distinguishing what I attempt in my paper from discussions of the tales as biography, or as rude prototypes——-in theme and/or character-—-of James's later fiction.