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

The rest is the madness of art.

There are two kinds of taste in the appreciation of imaginative literature: the taste for emotions of surprise and the taste for emotions of recognition.

This expressed only a little of what she felt. The rest was that she had never been loved before. She had believed it, but this was different; this was the hot wind of the desert, at the approach of which the others dropped dead, like mere sweet airs of the garden. It wrapped her about; it lifted her off her feet, while the very taste of it, as of something potent, acrid and strange, forced open her set teeth.

Try to be one of those people on whom nothing is lost.

We work in the dark -- we do what we can -- we give what we have.

Wherever you go, madam, it will matter little what you carry. You will always carry your goodness.

Small and fat and constantly facetious, straw- colored and destitute of marks, he would have been practically indistinguishable hadn't his constant preference for light-grey clothes, for white hats, for very big cigars and very little stories, done what it could for his identity.

The chief impression produced on Isabel's spirit by this criticism, was that the passion of love separated its victim terribly from everyone but the loved object

The historic atmosphere was there, certainly; but the historic atmosphere, scientifically considered, was no better than a villainous miasma.

The secret of that anomaly, to be plain, was that he was aware of how, while the days melted, something rare went with them. This something was only a thought, but a thought precisely of such freshness and such delicacy as made the precious, of whatever sort, most subject to the hunger of time. The thought was all his own, and his intimate companion was the last person he might have shared it with. He kept it back like a favorite pang; left it behind him, so to say, when he went out, but came home again the sooner for the certainty of finding it there. Then he took it out of its sacred corner and its soft wrappings; he undid them one by one, handling them, handling IT, as a father, baffled and tender, might handle a maimed child. But so it was before him--in his dread of who else might see it. Then he took to himself at such hours, in other words, that he should never, never know what had been in Milly's letter. The intention announced in it he should but too probably know; only that would have been, but for the depths of his spirit, the least part of it. The part of it missed forever was the turn she would have given her act. This turn had possibilities that, somehow, by wondering about them, his imagination had extraordinarily filled out and refined. It had made of them a revelation the loss of which was like the sight of a priceless pearl cast before his eyes--his pledge given not to save it--into the fathomless sea, or rather even it was like the sacrifice of something sentient and throbbing, something that, for the spiritual ear, might have been audible as a faint far wail. This was the sound he cherished when alone in the stillness of his rooms. He sought and guarded the stillness, so that it might prevail there till the inevitable sounds of life, once more, comparatively coarse and harsh, should smother and deaden it--doubtless by the same process with which they would officiously heal the ache in his soul that was somehow one with it.

There are women who are for all your 'times of life.' They're the most wonderful sort.

This is a pretty serious-minded farm show. But it has to be when you're pulling the farmer away from the farm.

Try to be someone upon whom nothing is lost!

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.

Which of my two critics was I to believe? I didn't worry about it and very soon made up my mind they were both idiots.

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.

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