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Sunday, 6 January 2013

Literary lion

Sunday, January 6th., London.

Thinking further about my observations on Samuel Povey in the "O.W.T.", I wonder if it would not have been possible to introduce a short early scene involving Sam and perhaps one or two of the shop-girls or the servant, to establish his force of character and unique position in the establishment. The business of Constance and Sophia getting cockles and mussels from Hollins in the street doesn't seem to add much (apart from a bit of colour) to the story, and might have been usefully omitted in favour of Sam!

Henry James. At Pinkers. Very slow talker. Beautiful French. Expressed stupefaction when I said I knew nothing about the middle-class, and said the next time he saw me he would have recovered from the stupefaction, and the discussion might proceed. Said there was too much to say about everything - and that was the thing most felt by one such as he, not entirely without - er - er - er - perceptions. When I said I lay awake at nights sometimes thinking of the things I had left out of my novels, he said that all my stuff was crammed, and that when the stuff was crammed nothing more could be put in, and so it was all right. He spoke with feeling about his recent illness. "I have been very ill". Said he was now settled down in Cheyne Walk, and had one or two faithful, dependable servants, and so on. An old man, waning, but with the persistent youthfulness that all old bachelors have.

Henry James, OM (1843 – 1916) was an American-born writer, regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. He was the son of Henry James, Sr. and the brother of philosopher and psychologist William James. James alternated between America and Europe for the first 20 years of his life, after which he settled in England, becoming a British subject in 1915. He is primarily known for the series of novels in which he portrays the encounter of Americans with Europe and Europeans. His method of writing from the point of view of a character within a tale allows him to explore issues related to consciousness and perception, and his style in later works has been compared to impressionist painting. James contributed significantly to literary criticism, particularly in his insistence that writers be allowed the greatest possible freedom in presenting their view of the world. James claimed that a text must first and foremost be realistic and contain a representation of life that is recognisable to its readers. Good novels, to James, show life in action and are, most importantly, interesting. The concept of a good or bad novel is judged solely upon whether the author is good or bad. His imaginative use of point of view, interior monologue and possibly unreliable narrators in his own novels and tales brought a new depth and interest to narrative fiction. An extraordinarily productive writer, in addition to his voluminous works of fiction he published articles and books of travel, biography, autobiography, and criticism, and wrote plays, some of which were performed during his lifetime with moderate success. 

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