I’m briefly interrupting Stephany’s excellent performance to let everyone know that the moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived: Jonathan Ames has revealed the results of Michael Wood’s efforts to solve the mystery of what happened to Henry James’ testicles.
A long time ago, I heard a rumor that Henry James had injured his testicles. In my novel The Extra Man, I used this rumor in the following bit of dialogue between the characters Louis Ives and Henry Harrison (the first speaker is Louis; he is also the narrator):
“It’s really very strange that I’ll be moving to New York. It’s all because I was looking at the cover of Henry James’s Washington Square and I thought I should be in New York.”
“I can’t stand James!” Henry proclaimed. “He’s unreadable.”
“I know what you mean.” I was worried that I had said the wrong thing, but then I stood up for myself and James a little bit by saying, “But the earlier books are quite good, like Daisy Miller, or Washington Square.”
“Yes, that’s true, his style did change. I wonder why. He burned himself, you know. Sat on a stove and shriveled his testicles. That may account for the change in style.”
I then recycled this rumor in my next book, my so-called memoir What’s Not to Love?….
Well, a few months ago a young scholar named Michael Wood wrote to me after reading The Extra Man and What’s Not to Love? and asked me if I had any proof to back up this Henry James testicle rumor. I did not have any proof, but I asked him if he could look into it for me, for us. It was my hope that he would discover just what the hell happened to Henry James.
The following extraordinary essay, on this very important literary matter, is the result.
Wood’s research hones in on three vital areas of Jamesian scholarship:
A) the testicles story
B) any sex stuff (particularly insinuations of homosexuality)
C) literary back stabbings