By Vivien Jones (auth.)
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11) The association of Scott and, implicitly, Balzac (alluding to Balzac's similar praise of Scott in the 'Avant-Propos' to the ComMie Humaine) with Shakespeare makes it clear that 'imagination' here refers to the negative capability of entry into another consciousness, the full dramatic realization of a free character. James develops the theme in his next review, of Prescott's Azarian, in which he describes Balzac's figures as 'completed before the story begins' (N & R, p. 25), and again in his 1875 essay on Balzac, where he compares Balzac and Turgenev as creators of character: If Balzac had a rival, the most dangerous rival would be Turgenieff.
The imagination which Trollope possessed he had at least thoroughly at his command. (PP, p. 99, my emphasis) It was Trollope's limited imagination which James stressed repeatedly in the early articles. In an 1870 review of Disraeli's Lothair, the opposition between real and ideal, in which Trollope is identified with 'dreary realism', is made overt: We are forever complaining, most of us, of the dreary realism, the hard, sordid, pretentious accuracy, of the typical novel of the period, of the manner ofTroliope ....
James's emphasis on the interdependence of narrative elements is very different from the usual Atlantic review with its mechanical separation of plot, character and background. James could be equally schematic, however. I have already pointed out his thematic opposition of the French 'aesthetic conscience' to the 'moral leaven' of the English imagination, and in picking his way among what he saw as different (ultimately reconcilable) kinds of narrative intelligence James tends in the early reviews to separate the subject of a novel from its treatment (meaning usually the moral possibilities explored), and treatment from form.