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Edel, L. (1951). Hugh Walpole and Henry James: The Fantasy of the ‘Killer and the Slain’. Am. Imago, 8(4):351-369.

(1951). American Imago, 8(4):351-369

Hugh Walpole and Henry James: The Fantasy of the ‘Killer and the Slain’

Leon Edel

The Problem

THE starting point for this inquiry is a dedication. The last novel written by Hugh Walpole (1884-1941) was entitled by him The Killer and the Slain and when it was published in England a year after his death it bore the inscription: “This macabre is dedicated in loving memory and humble admiration to the great author of The Turning of the Screw.” The American edition published at the same time contained an edited version of these words: “Dedicated in Loving Memory and Humble Admiration to the Author of The Turn of the Screw.” The English dedication follows that which Walpole himself attached to the original manuscript.

On the face of it there would appear to be no problem. Hugh Walpole, having written what he called a “macabre,” was paying tribute to the author of another, a celebrated macabre or ghostly tale, and thereby honoring the memory of Henry James, the American novelist, whose friendship he had enjoyed during his apprentice years in London. Dedications, however, do reveal certain things. They originate in a relationship between two or more persons; they reflect certain wishes, states of mind, intentions on the part of the dedicator. The choice of Henry James, in this instance, has some significance; the form of the dedication, particularly in its original, unrevised state, is both curious and suggestive. One is struck immediately by the fact that James is not mentioned by name.

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