Henry James

Henry
James
1843
1916

Anglo-American Novelist, son of Henry James, Sr. and brother of philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James

Author Quotes

You were to suffer your fate. That was not necessarily to know it.

You young men have too many jokes. When there are no jokes you've nothing left.

Young men of this class never do anything for themselves that they can get other people to do for them, and it is the infatuation, the devotion, the superstition of others that keeps them going. These others in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred are women.

So here it is at last, the distinguished thing!

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 torch-bearing 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.

The house had a name and a history; the old gentleman taking his tea would have been delighted to tell you these things: how it had been built under Edward the Sixth, had offered a night's hospitality to the great Elizabeth (whose august person had extended itself upon a huge, magnificent and terribly angular bed which still formed the principal honor of the sleeping apartments), had been a good deal bruised and defaced in Cromwell's wars, and then, under the Restoration, repaired and much enlarged; and how, finally, after having been remodeled and disfigured in the eighteenth century, it had passed into the careful keeping of a shrewd American banker, who had bought it originally because (owing to circumstances too complicated to set forth) it was offered at a great bargain: bought it with much grumbling at its ugliness, its antiquity, its incommodity, and who now, at the end of twenty years, had become conscious of a real aesthetic passion for it, so that he know all its points and would tell you just where to stand to see them in combination and just the hour when the shadows of its various protuberances ? which fell so softly upon the warm, weary brickwork ? were of the right measure.

The seed companies have been really responsive. That's a new thing at a farm show -- having the equipment demonstration right next to the dealers' booths. That's one of the fantastic things about the Tipton County Fairgrounds.

There is an old-fashioned distinction between the novel of character and the novel of incident, which must have cost many a smile to the intending romancer who was keen about his work. It appears to me as little to the point as the equally celebrated distinction between the novel and the romance- to answer as little to any reality. There are bad novels and good novels, as there are bad pictures and good pictures; but that is the only distinction in which I see any meaning, and I can as little imagine speaking of a novel of character as I can imagine speaking of a picture of character. When one says picture, one says of character, when one says novel, one says of incident, and the terms may be transposed. What is character but the determination of incident? What is incident but the illustration of character? What is a picture or a novel that is not of character? What else do we seek in it and find in it?

This purpose had not been preponderantly to make money--it had been rather to learn something and to do something. To learn something interesting, and to do something useful--this was, roughly speaking, the programme he had sketched, and of which the accident of his wife having an income appeared to him in no degree to modify the validity.

Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.

Well, I am rather afraid of that visit, said Clifford. It seems to me it will be rather like going to school again. The Baroness looked at him a moment. My dear child, she said, there is no agreeable man who has not, at some moment, been to school to a clever woman--probably a little older than himself. And you must be thankful when you get your instructions gratis. With me you would get it gratis.

Which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?

So then she had to take it, though still with her defeated protest. It isn't so much your BEING 'right'--it's your horrible sharp eye for what makes you so. Oh but you're just as bad yourself. You can't resist me when I point that out. She sighed it at last all comically, all tragically, away. I can't indeed resist you. Then there we are! said Strether.

The deep well of unconscious cerebration.

The ideal of quiet and of genteel retirement, in 1835, was found in Washington Square, where the Doctor built himself a handsome, modern, wide-fronted house, with a big balcony before the drawing-room windows, and a flight of marble steps ascending to a portal which was also faced with white marble. This structure, and many of its neighbors, which it exactly resembled, were supposed, forty years ago, to embody the last results of architectural science, and they remain to this day very solid and honorable dwellings. In front of them was the Square, containing a considerable quantity of inexpensive vegetation, enclosed by a wooden paling, which increased its rural and accessible appearance; and round the corner was the more august precinct of the Fifth Avenue, taking its origin at this point with a spacious and confident air which already marked it for high destinies. I know not whether it is owing to the tenderness of early associations, but this portion of New York appears to many persons the most delectable. It has a kind of established repose which is not of frequent occurrence in other quarters of the long, shrill city; it has a riper, richer, more honorable look than any of the upper ramifications of the great longitudinal thoroughfare?the look of having had something of a social history.

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, I remember no comment uttered till somebody happened to say that it was the only case he had met in which such a visitation had fallen on a child.

There is only one recipe - to care a great deal for the cookery.

This was a subject on which it was, to the best of his belief, impossible with veracity to quote him, and it was nowhere on record that he had, in the connexion, on any occasion and in any embarrassment, either lied or spoken the truth. Such a triumph had its honor even for a man of other triumphs--a man who had reached fifty, who had escaped marriage, who had lived within his means, who had been in love with Mrs. Mallow for years without breathing it, and who, last but not least, had judged himself once for all.

Under the guise of caring only for intrinsic values Osmond lived exclusively for the world. Far from being its master as he pretended to be, he was its very humble servant, and the degree of its attention was his only measure of success. He lived with his eye on it from morning till night, and the world was so stupid it never suspected the trick. Everything he did was pose?pose so subtly considered that if one were not on the lookout one mistook it for impulse. Ralph had never met a man who lived so much in the land of consideration.

What could the thing that was to happen to him be, after all, but just this thing that had begun to happen? Her dying, her death, his consequent solitude - that was what he had figured as the beast in the jungle.

Who was she, what was she that she should hold herself superior? What view of life, what design upon fate, what conception of happiness, had she that she pretended to be larger than this large occasion? If she would not do this, then she must do great things, she must do something greater.

Some sunny empty grass-grown court lost in the heart of the labyrinthine pile.

The effect, if not the prime office, of criticism is to make our absorption and our enjoyment of the things that feed the mind as aware of itself as possible, since that awareness quickens the mental demand, which thus in turn wanders further and further for pasture. This action on the part of the mind practically amounts to a reaching out for the reasons of its interest, as only by its ascertaining them can the interest grow more various. This is the very education of our imaginative life.

The image of the "presence," whatever it was, waiting there for him to go--this image had not yet been so concrete for his nerves as when he stopped short of the point at which certainty would have come to him. For, with all his resolution, or more exactly with all his dread, he did stop short--he hung back from really seeing. The risk was too great and his fear too definite: it took at this moment an awful specific form.

The superiority of one man's opinion over another's is never so great as when the opinion is about a woman.

Author Picture
First Name
Henry
Last Name
James
Birth Date
1843
Death Date
1916
Bio

Anglo-American Novelist, son of Henry James, Sr. and brother of philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James