"My Cleverness, I Assure You, Has Grown Infernal": Playing Stupid with Henry James


  • Bruno Penteado Department of English Indiana University South Bend




Henry James. Ethics. Ideology critique.


This article reads Henry James’s bias against his native America ironically. I offer a two-fold reading of the staging and performance of stupidity: it is both a strategy of resistance and a rhetoric of disavowal of responsibility. I contend that Henry James offers Milly Theale, the American rotagonist of “The Wings of the Dove”, the possibility of playing up to European assumptions about the New World through a performance of stupidity. I also argue that feigning ignorance is also renouncing responsibility, as exemplified in Merton Densher’s conduct. James abstains from conclusions, allowing stupidity to rule in the end.


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Biografia do Autor

Bruno Penteado, Department of English Indiana University South Bend

Ph.D. Comparative Literature, Brown University. Associate Faculty, Department of English, Indiana University South Bend.


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Como Citar

PENTEADO, B. "My Cleverness, I Assure You, Has Grown Infernal": Playing Stupid with Henry James. Remate de Males, Campinas, SP, v. 38, n. 1, p. 305–335, 2018. DOI: 10.20396/remate.v38i1.8650290. Disponível em: https://periodicos.sbu.unicamp.br/ojs/index.php/remate/article/view/8650290. Acesso em: 1 out. 2022.