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Shulman, G. (2002). Closely Observed Texts: Learning from Reading: Henry James's Novel What Maisie Knew. J. Child Psychother., 28(2):217-233.

(2002). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 28(2):217-233

Closely Observed Texts: Learning from Reading: Henry James's Novel What Maisie Knew

Graham Shulman

This paper discusses a central theme of the novel What Maisie Knew by Henry James, namely the development of a child's consciousness and internal world in a hostile psychological environment. It explores the way in which the novel dramatizes the problems for a child, in such circumstances, of knowing and understanding her own experience and the adult world. The paper charts the difficulties for Maisie in negotiating a child's ordinary tasks and stages of psychic growth, and in particular the Oedipal situation. It also explores the parallel in the novel between the child's attempts to know and the attempts of the reader of fiction to know, and the use of reading as a metaphor for perception and learning.

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