By foregrounding the difficulties with reading the child, Henry James's What Maisie Knew reconfigures the relationship between simplicity, transparency, and opacity to create reparative “styles of knowing” in the novel. This article proposes that the difficulty with reading the child is tied to the child as reader; childlike reading in James uses style as an entry point through which to join in with lies, to repair them by making them performatively true. The author suggests that by analyzing texts that challenge the “supreme simplicity” of childhood and expose transparency as a strategy for obfuscation, we can develop a new practice of reading that is capable of interpreting performances of transparency, performances that currently work to deflect suspicious modes of interpretation. This article demonstrates how James's development of a childlike reading practice, which is founded in and embraces interpretative struggle, can provide possible ways forward in this regard.

You do not currently have access to this content.