The author considers James’ s work from The Bostonians
to The Awkward Age
– from 1883 to 1889 – a period in which James was resident in London and searching for material to replace the “ international theme.” Jacobson considers this context in relation to the emergence of a mass market and sees James’ s major fiction of this period as an attempt to exploit the conventions of popular fiction in an analysis of his society’ s assumptions. James’ s work at this time must also be viewed as an artist’ s effort to secure popular attention and acceptance.
Such an approach allows Jacobson to treat James’ s “ French period” and his “ experimental period” as a unit and to counter the myth that James was an ivory tower artist.