Quotations From HENRY JAMES
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I hate American simplicity. I glory in the piling up of complications of every sort. If I could pronounce the name James in any different or more elaborate way I should be in favour of doing it.Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. Quoted by Leon Edel in Letters of Henry James, vol. 4, introduction (1984). Said to James's niece Peggy (Margaret Mary James).
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Summer afternoonsummer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. Quoted in A Backward Glance, ch. 10, Edith Wharton (1934). Remark during "one perfect afternoon we spent at Bodiam" (Bodiam Castle, Kent, England).
Tell the boys to follow, to be faithful, to take me seriously.Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. quoted in H. Montgomery Hyde, Henry James at Home, ch. 7, sct. 4 (1969). James spoke these words, according to Hyde, during one of his last conscious moments, when his mind was dwelling on his work.
Whatever question there may be of his talent, there can be none, I think, of his genius. It was a slim and crooked one, but it was eminently personal. He was unperfect, unfinished, inartistic; he was worse than provincialhe was parochial.Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. Hawthorne, ch. 4 (1879).
If I were to live my life over again, I would be an American. I would steep myself in America, I would know no other land.Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. Remark, 1899, to writer Hamlin Garland. Quoted in Tony Tanner, Hawthorne, introduction (1879). See also the comment by James under "United States."
People talk about the conscience, but it seems to me one must just bring it up to a certain point and leave it there. You can let your conscience alone if you're nice to the second housemaid.Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. Nanda Brookenham, in The Awkward Age, bk. 6, ch. 3 (1899).
An Englishman's never so natural as when he's holding his tongue.Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. Isabel Archer, in The Portrait of a Lady, ch. 10 (1881).
It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance ... and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process.Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. Letter, July 10, 1915, to author H.G. Wells. Henry James Letters, vol. 4, ed. Leon Edel (1984). Wells replied (13th July), "I don't clearly understand your concluding phrases.... I can only read sense into it by assuming that you are using 'art' for every conscious human activity. I use the word for a research and attainment that is technical and special."
I am blackly bored when they are at large & at work; but somehow I am still more blackly bored when they are shut up in Holloway & we are deprived of them.Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. Letter, March 13, 1912, to Edith Wharton. Henry James & Edith Wharton: Letters 1900-1915, ed. Lyall Powers (1990). referring to "the window-smashing women." Holloway is a women's prison in London.
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It's a complex fate, being an American, and one of the responsibilities it entails is fighting against a superstitious valuation of Europe.Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. Letter, February 4, 1872, to editor Charles Eliot Norton. Henry James Letters, vol. 1, ed. Leon Edel (1974).
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