Abstract

In many of his later works, fiction and nonfiction alike, Henry James often sought to “appropriate aspects of photography” by using incredibly precise “verbal constructions of images.” In “The Jolly Corner” (1908), one of his most celebrated short stories, James accomplishes just that. This work, an especially elegant version of the traditional doppelganger tale, has crisp and focused imagery throughout its three chapters. However, there is no color in the story. All of the rich descriptive passages for which the author is so renowned are offered only in subtle gradations of black and white and grey, just like in haunting photographs from the period. In essence, this carefully rendered psychological ghost story, “enchanting and chilling” by turns, is presented as a type of prose photograph album of New York City at the century's turn, a stylish attempt by James, and a successful one, to reproduce with words what he himself once praised as that “beautiful art,” the “art” of black-and-white photography as practiced by Edward Steichen, Katherine McClellan, and the other masters of the new medium.

You do not currently have access to this content.