Henry James, The Figure in the Carpet

Mhairi Catriona Pooler (University of Aberdeen)
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Initially published in


magazine in January and February 1896, Henry James’s “significant fable” (

The Art of the Novel

, 225) “The Figure in the Carpet” concerns the relationship between an author and his audience and issues of literary interpretation. Published in the same year in the collection


, together with “The Next Time” amongst other works, “The Figure in the Carpet” is one of several stories about writers and artists written for the most part in James’s so-called “middle period” of the late 1880s and the 1890s.

Attending a party in the wake of the publication of a review of Hugh Vereker’s new novel, the unnamed narrator encounters the novelist himself, who dismisses his critical efforts for having seen nothing of his true purpose

1315 words

Citation: Pooler, Mhairi Catriona. "The Figure in the Carpet". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 October 2008 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=867, accessed 12 June 2024.]

867 The Figure in the Carpet 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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