The Sound of James: The Aural Dimension in Henry James’s Work


This volume collects revised and, in some cases, considerably expanded versions of papers originally delivered at the 8th International Conference of the Henry James Society, held in Trieste, in July 2019. As its title and subtitle announce, this publication intends to highlight, and examine, James’s relation to, and literary use of, sound in its various manifestations and forms: music (performed and/or listened to; used in stage or film adaptations), speech (with all its connotations of national or regional provenance, social background and gender), noise, and the often very eloquent absence of sound, namely silence. By delving into this hitherto underrated aspect of James’s writing, the contributors to this volume offer fresh and insightful perspectives on some of his most celebrated works (such as The Portrait of a Lady or “The Beast in the Jungle”), as well as on his lesser-known tales and plays. Most importantly, they encourage us to become attuned to, and appreciate in new ways, the utterly unique sound of James’s language.

Leonardo Buonomo teaches American literature at the University of Trieste, Italy. He has written exte entury American literature, Italian American literature, and American popular culture. His latest book is Immigration, Ethnicity, and Class in American Writing, 1830‑1860: Reading the Stranger (Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2014). In 2018 he contributed to Nathaniel Hawthorne in Context, ed. Monika Elbert (Cambridge UP). In 2019 he served as President of the Henry James Society. More recently, he has contributed to a special issue of the journal Humanities on “Forms of Literary Relations in Henry James,” edited by Simone Francescato (2021) and the forthcoming volume Republics and Empires: Italian and American Art in Transnational Perspective, 184 by Melissa Dabakis and Paul H. D. Kaplan (Manchester UP, 2021).