For those who have not yet experienced the delights and challenges of Heny James's later style, here are a couple of almost randomly chosen sentences. (I found them on-line by starting at The Henry James scholar's Guide to Web Sites.
This is from the Preface to the New York Edition of The Golden Bowl, in which James is reflecting on the development of his own art:What it would be really interesting, and I dare say admirably difficult, to go into would be the very history of this effect of experience; the history, in other words, of the growth of the immense array of terms, perceptional and expressional, that, after the fashion I have indicated, in sentence, passage and page, simply looked over the heads of the standing terms--or perhaps rather, like alert winged (xvii) creatures, perched on those diminished summits and aspired to a clearer air. What it comes back to, for the maturer mind--granting of course, to begin with, a mind accessible to questions of such an order--is this attaching speculative interest of the matter, or in vulgar parlance the inordinate intellectual "sport" of it: the how and the whence and the why these intenser lights of experience come into being and insist on shining.And this is from Chapter 1 of The Ambassadors. Lambert Strether has just arrived by ship from the U.S. in England and has landed at Liverpool.There were people on the ship with whom he had easily consorted--so far as ease could up to now be imputed to him--and who for the most part plunged straight into the current that set from the landing-stage to London; there were others who had invited him to a tryst at the inn and had even invoked his aid for a "look round" at the beauties of Liverpool; but he had stolen away from every one alike, had kept no appointment and renewed no acquaintance, had been indifferently aware of the number of persons who esteemed themselves fortunate in being, unlike himself, "met," and had even independently, unsociably, alone, without encounter or relapse and by mere quiet evasion, given his afternoon and evening to the immediate and the sensible.
- Return to Advice on writing papers.