Art Making Life

Studies in Henry James
Sergio Perosa
ISBN 9781566493505 (paperback)
Published in January 2016
MSRP $23.95
These essays skillfully reverse the lens on Henry James’s internationalist theme and focus on it from a European perspective. Multilingual and multicultural, Sergio Perosa interprets afresh the meetings and clashes between European and American characters in James’s work, as well as their attitudes, customs, and values. James’s elaborate and influential theories of fiction, and his farsighted awareness of epochal social and cultural shifts at the turn of the twentieth century were colored by his love of European authors such as Tolstoy, D’Annunzio, and Shakespeare. A native of Venice, Professor Perosa reveals James’s “oxymoronic view” of the city, “where beauty resides in decline, and decline is a form of beauty.”
This elegantly written account of James’s work reintroduces him as a first example of Modernism, whose fiction provides an intricate key to how we live today. James himself saw Shakespeare as “the abstract Master of Expression . . . whose very terms and tenets . . . he applied to his own fictional ideals.” In Italian literature, James felt that D’Annunzio “showed an artistic intelligence of extraordinary range and fineness concentrated almost wholly on the life of the senses.” Many other authors added to the blend that emerged as James’s magisterial art.
As he did a half century ago with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sergio Perosa reawakens contemporary scholars and general readers to the glories and intricacies of one of the great American masters.

Sergio Perosa is Professor of English and American Literature Emeritus at Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, and a guest professor at New York University. An internationally known essayist and critic, equally fluent in Italian and English, he has edited scholarly and literary journals, and lectured throughout the world on major international and post-Colonial authors of fiction, theater, and poetry. He has translated works by Shakespeare (eight plays, some for stage and television), Virginia Woolf, Henry James, Herman Melville, Robert Penn Warren, John Berryman, William Dean Howells, and many others.