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 real offence, as she ultimately perceived, was her having a mind of her own at all. Her mind was to be his - attached to his own like a small garden plot to a deer park.

There are three things that are important in human life. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind.

Things are always different than what they might be... If you wait for them to change, you will never do anything.

True happiness, we are told, consists in getting out of one's self, but the point is not only to get out; you must stay out, and to stay out, you must have some absorbing errand.

We were alone with the quiet day, and his little heart, dispossessed, had stopped.

Wherever we go we carry this burden of our personal consciousness and wherever we step we open it out over our heads like a great baleful cotton umbrella to obstruct the prospect and obscure the light of heaven.

Since she might not be splendid, she would at least be immaculate.

The Baroness found it amusing to go to tea; she dressed as if for dinner. The tea-table offered an anomalous and picturesque repast; and on leaving it they all sat and talked in the large piazza, or wandered about the garden in the starlight.

The historian, essentially, wants more documents than he can really use; the dramatist only wants more liberties than he can really take.

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.

I still, in presence of life... have reactions ? as many as possible... It's, I suppose, because I am that queer monster, the artist, an obstinate finality, an inexhaustible sensibility. Hence the reactions ? appearances, memories, many things, go on playing upon it with consequences that I note and "enjoy" (grim word!) noting. It all takes doing ? and I do. I believe I shall do yet again ? it is still an act of life.

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