Monopolizing the Master: Henry James and the Politics of Modern Literary Scholarship by Michael Anesko - review by John Sutherland

John Sutherland

Regarding Henry

Monopolizing the Master: Henry James and the Politics of Modern Literary Scholarship

By

Stanford University Press 248pp £30.50 order from our bookshop
 

I’ve wondered over the years what Michael Anesko was up to. In 1986 he published a monograph on Henry James. Nothing wonderful about that. James studies had by that time become industrial in its scale of monograph production. What was unusual about Friction with the Market was its bolshiness. The image of the Master promoted by himself and the keepers of his posthumous flame had been that of an artist loftily above considerations of money or celebrity. Anesko, by dogged sleuthing into the literary remains and financial evidence, uncovered a writer morbidly concerned with his returns and furious that he wasn’t, dammit, a bestseller like that awful Mrs Humphry Ward. 

We’ve had to wait a quarter of a century for this second act of critical iconoclasm. Monopolizing the Master begins with a paragraph in which Anesko, an American professor, rubbishes his own profession (judging by his website, his career has not been jet-propelled – those of iconoclasts seldom are):

At least

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