In The Tragic Muse, James's treatment of illusion makes very scant reference to literature. Literature is what is abandoned, something that interferes, something deferred, but never something on which James's novel concentrates. This is all the more striking since through different stages of his career as a critic, illusion was a crucial criterion for James's estimations of his own and others' fiction. James first published his essay on Daudet, which stressed the centrality of illusion as an evaluative term, in 1883 and it appeared in book form in the same year as The Aspern Papers'. Although illusion remained crucially and enablingly evaluative throughout James's criticism, the creation and reception of illusion by and within literary texts is not one of his concerns in his short stories about writers. The group of stories which begins with The Aspern Papers' and ends with The Velvet Glove' is not concerned with the capacity of a fictional text to produce illusion in the sense on which James insists in the essay on Daudet or in the sense which he dreads in his comments on Madame Bovary. If the novel is capable of simultaneously producing an instance of and a commentary on illusionist experience, then the compressed instances with which I am concerned in this chapter do so not through concentration on a literary art form capable of producing illusion but through concentration on the producers of this art form and the social response to them. Why is this so?