Focusing on James's last three completed novels - The Ambassadors, The Wings of the Dove, and The Golden Bowl - Maya Higashi Wakana shows how a microsociological approach to James's novels radically revises the widespread tradition of putting James's characters into historical and cultural contexts. Wakana begins with the premise that day-to-day living is inherently theatrical and thus duplicitous, and goes on to show that James's art relies significantly on his powerful sense of the agonizing and even dangerous complications of mundane face-to-face rituals that pervade his work. Centrally informed by social thinkers such as G. H. Mead and Erving Goffman, Wakana's study discloses the richness, complexity, and singularity of the interpersonal connections depicted in James's late novels. Persuasively argued, and rich in original close readings, her book makes an important contribution to James's studies and to theories of social interaction.
Maya Higashi Wakana is a Professor in the College of International Relations at Ritsumeikan University in Japan.