The Riddle of the Riddle: A Study of the Folk Riddle's Figurative Nature
Beginning with The Portrait of a Lady, this book shows how, in developing his unique form of realism, James highlights the tragic consequences of his American heroine's Romantic imagination, in particular, her Emersonian idealism. In order to expose Emerson's blind spot, a lacuna at the very centre of his New England Transcendentalism, James draws on the Gothic effects of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe, thereby producing an intensification of Isabel Archer's psychological state and precipitating her awakening to a fuller, heightened consciousness. Thus Romanticism takes an aesthetic turn, becoming distinctly Paterian and unleashing queer possibilities that are further developed in James's subsequent fiction.
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What is the Folk Riddle from Oral Tradition?
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