The Jolly Corner Criticism

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"The Jolly Corner" has generated much critical commentary. On one level, Spencer Brydon's experience is quite familiar and represents a painful but inevitable aspect of the human condition. Critics explore the implications of his self-doubt and insecurity as well as the meaning of the story's conclusion. Is the final scene a moment of redemption for Spencer; or, is Spencer incapable of really coming to terms with his past?

Some commentators view the story as autobiographical. Like Spencer, James left the United States (in 1875), lived in Europe for a long period of time, and returned to find America much changed. Spencer's conflict between Europe and America is subject of much of James's fiction, literary criti cism, and diary entries. Moreover, Alice Staverton's name echoes James's beloved younger sister.

Spencer's alter ego represents a personal and philosophical crisis that James's father often spoke about—the "vastation." Henry James, Sr...

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This section contains 660 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Jolly Corner Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
The Jolly Corner from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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