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Showing posts from July 5, 2015

Henry James as supermike

This summer I decided, once again, to go the eight rounds with James’ The Ambassadors, a novel I have never been able to finish. This is weird to me, since I am a great admirer of the late James, and in particular the two novels associated with The Ambassadors, The Wings of the Dove, which preceded it, and The Golden Bowl, which came after it – speaking strictly in terms of order of publication. Of course, the late style is either damned for its obscurity or praised for its epistemological complexity – but it is always there as a fact, one of the stranger facts in American literature, to put besides Melville’s style, and Faulkner’s.  James managed, in these late novels that were dictated to his secretary, to combine the diffuse and the dense, and by their opposition and entanglement create those great sentence-enigmas.  James, by this point, knew what he stood for ethically, aesthetically, and even, one might say, ontologically – he stood for discrimination. By this, he meant a fide