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Schmukler, A.G. (1989). American Imago. XLIII, 1986: Beltraffio: Henry James's Secrecy. Melissa Knox. Pp. 211-227.. Psychoanal Q., 58:175-176.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: American Imago. XLIII, 1986: Beltraffio: Henry James's Secrecy. Melissa Knox. Pp. 211-227.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:175-176

American Imago. XLIII, 1986: Beltraffio: Henry James's Secrecy. Melissa Knox. Pp. 211-227.

Anita G. Schmukler

The author examines ways in which Henry James attempted to resolve internal conflicts in his story, "The Author of Beltraffio," which deals with secrets and mysteries. The narrator of the story continually reminds the reader that Mark Ambient is an author "so well known that there's no need to describe him." Thus the reader's curiosity is stirred, as James apparently expresses conflict over wishes to reveal and conceal. Mark Ambient's wife engages in mysterious activities, which lead to the death of their son, presumably "so that he does not grow up to read his father's books." Thus James employed the familiar technique of permitting the reader to view the effect of responses, while much remained to be gleaned by inference. Henry James was absorbed by matters relating to secrecy, both in the content of his stories and in his "elusive prose style." The relation between James and his character, Mark Ambient, has been sufficiently demonstrated, and James's adoration of Ambient is clear in the story. While Mrs. Ambient allows her small child to die, and Miss Ambient (the author's sister) is an object of scorn, both Mark Ambient and Dolcino (the dying son) are presented in terms of veneration. Knox addresses James's homoerotic wishes, veiled in elusive prose and a preoccupation with secrecy, and raises the

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question of whether the story might have been more successful if James had been better able to face his disturbing conflicts.

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Article Citation

Schmukler, A.G. (1989). American Imago. XLIII, 1986. Psychoanal. Q., 58:175-176

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