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In my own retelling, A Small Boy is a recuperative exercise which allows James to regain his creative powers by an immersion in the ideal conditions his story offers him, the 'disencumbered, disembroiled' freedom of an improvizational exercise which may also be a process having significant affinities with the experience and growth of the 'small boy'.
Whereas naturalism insists on the constant inter-relatedness of subject and objects--they are all created by the logic of the market--the Romance is a space allowing for the "radical autonomy of persons,"(16) or what Henry James called "experience disengaged, disembroiled, disencumbered."(17) Thus, where naturalism denies the possibility of mending the rupture between the social and the moral, this act of reparation is at the heart of sentimental fiction.