In Henry James’s works the passage of time is rather unimportant, and his main interest seems to be a rather spatial representation of experience. Psychological actions and thoughts of the characters are seen as unfolding in time, but there is also a feeling of being suspended in a timeless universe, of being lost in the labyrinth of a central consciousness, which produces a text that is free of time. The use of interior monologue produces a feeling of a continuous present. The reader loses any sense of reality or physical time and is led into the mind of the character. What really matters is the change in the individuall’s emotional or mental condition that is determined by a specific set of experiences. Characters’ voices blend with the narrator’s: past and present, self and other become synchronic, and the language tries to express this presentness in the functioning of the mind.
James’s use of a centre of consciousness relies very much upon a notion of a flexible self-receptive to experience. The centre of consciousness also operates as a vehicle with which James is able to bring the reader into the events of the text. It is probably the reason why James refuses the artificial constraints of omniscient narration that, in his view, never lets the reader forget that one is reading fiction. Rather, a novel should try and create that kind of an atmosphere that requires the absence of overt authorial control, and that absence, in its turn, allows the reader to step into the text and join the character in the active process of understanding the various experiences included in the novel. In many ways, reading James is like an experience of virtual reality. This is the essential power of fiction for James. Through James’s narrative technique the novel offers readers an image of themselves and an opportunity to better understand not only themselves in the reflected image, but exactly the mechanism of this understanding process.