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Henry James (1843 – 1916)


Brother of the philosopher and psychologist William James, was an American-born author and literary critic of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Henry James
With the stroke of the loss I was so proud of he uttered the cry of a creature hurled over an abyss, and the grasp with which I recovered him might have been that of catching him in his fall. I caught him, yes, I held him—it may be imagined with what a passion; but at the end of a minute I began to feel what it truly was that I held. We were alone with the quiet day, and his little heart, dispossessed, had stopped.
James quotes
The time-honored bread-sauce of the happy ending.
James
Don't mind anything anyone tells you about anyone else. Judge everyone and everything for yourself.




James Henry quotes
It took me years to ascertain that Henry James' work was giving me little pleasure: In each case I ask myself: "What the dickens is this novel about, and where does it think it's going to?" Question unanswerable! I gave up. To-day I have no recollection whatever of any characters of any events in either novel.
James Henry
In the long run an opinion often borrows credit from the forbearance of its patrons.
Henry James quotes
In art economy is always beauty.
Henry James
She was a woman who, between courses, could be graceful with her elbows on the table.
James Henry quotes
He is outside of everything, and an alien everywhere. He is an aesthetic solitary. His beautiful, light imagination is the wing that on the autumn evening just brushes the dusky window.
James
The power to guess the unseen from the seen, to trace the implication of things, to judge the whole piece by the pattern, the condition of feeling life, in general, so completely that you are well on your way to knowing any particular corner of it — this cluster of gifts may almost be said to constitute experience, and they occur in country and in town, and in the most differing stages of education. If experience consists of impressions, it may be said that impressions are experience, just as (have we not seen it?) they are the very air we breathe. Therefore, if I should certainly say to a novice, "Write from experience, and experience only," I should feel that this was a rather tantalizing monition if I were not careful immediately to add, "Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost!"
James Henry
The terrible fluidity of self-revelation.
Henry James
I'm glad you like adverbs — I adore them; they are the only qualifications I really much respect.




Henry James quotes
The story had held us, round the fire, sufficiently breathless, but except the obvious remark that it was gruesome, as, on Christmas Eve in an old house, a strange tale should essentially be.
Henry James
The only reason for the existence of a novel is that it does attempt to represent life.
James quotes
We must grant the artist his subject, his idea, what the French call his donnée; our criticism is applied only to what he makes of it. Naturally I do not mean that we are bound to like it or find it interesting: in case we do not our course is perfectly simple — to let it alone. We may believe that of a certain idea even the most sincere novelist can make nothing at all, and the event may perfectly justify our belief; but the failure will have been a failure to execute, and it is in the execution that the fatal weakness is recorded. If we pretend to respect the artist at all we must allow him his freedom of choice, in the face, in particular cases, of innumerable presumptions that the choice will not fructify. Art derives a considerable part of its beneficial exercise from flying in the face of presumptions, and some of the most interesting experiments of which it is capable are hidden in the bosom of common things.
James Henry
To see deep difficulty braved is at any time, for the really addicted artist, to feel almost even as a pang the beautiful incentive, and to feel it verily in such sort as to wish the danger intensified. The difficulty most worth tackling can only be for him, in these conditions, the greatest the case permits of.
James Henry quotes
Life's too short for chess.
Henry James
I seemed to float not into clearness, but into a darker obscure, and within a minute there had come to me out of my very pity the appalling alarm of his being perhaps innocent. It was for the instant confounding and bottomless, for if he were innocent, what then on earth was I?
Henry James quotes
We work in the dark — we do what we can — we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.
Henry James
We must know, as much as possible, in our beautiful art...what we are talking about — and the only way to know is to have lived and loved and cursed and floundered and enjoyed and suffered. I think I don't regret a single "excess" of my responsive youth — I only regret, in my chilled age, certain occasions and possibilities I didn't embrace.
James Henry
The critical sense is so far from frequent that it is absolutely rare, and the possession of the cluster of qualities that minister to it is one of the highest distinctions... In this light one sees the critic as the real helper of the artist, a torchbearing outrider, the interpreter, the brother... Just in proportion as he is sentient and restless, just in proportion as he reacts and reciprocates and penetrates, is the critic a valuable instrument.


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