Volume 7, Issue 1, 2010
“The Inwardness of the Modern Mind”
Reading Henry James through a Hegelian Spirit
The aim of this article is to investigate the ways in which memory and imagination operate in and through the development of consciousness in literary texts. Its
guiding theme shall be the double consciousness in modern life which sets the plot for one of the masterpieces of Henry James, The Ambassadors (1903). Thus The Ambassadors artfully crafts the “inwardness of the modern mind” by plotting it as a process of maturity and of becoming mindful through the powers of imagination, recollection and memory. The prospect of the novel consists in the possibility of envisioning a sense of freedom or of life that is one’s own making. The interpretation that I endorse here is guided by the question of intimacy and its relation to freedom, and is made in the light of what Hegel says in his Philosophy of Mind with regard to the development of mind’s powers. This assessment may disclose a way of learning and growing through becoming mindful of the oppositions that pervade the modern mind. Henry James and Hegel, each in their unique way, recollect this lesson that modern life teaches by raising it to a higher consciousness as we find in the form of their art and philosophy.