Monday, September 11, 2017

Fancy meeting you here

    Thank you for saying that.
    May I sit down?

          The fluted shaft on which she had taken her seat
          would have afforded a resting place to several
          persons, and there was plenty of room even for a
          highly-developed Englishman. This fine specimen
          of that great class seated himself near our young
          lady, and in the course of five minutes he had
          asked her several questions, taken rather at ran-
          dom and to which, as he put some of them twice o-
          ver, he apparently somewhat missed catching the
          answer; had given her too some information about
          himself which was not wasted upon her calmer fem-
          inine sense. He repeated more than once that he           
          had not expected to meet her, and it was evident
          that the encounter touched him in a way that would
          have made preparation advisable. He began abruptly
          to pass from the impunity of things to their sol-
          enmity, and from their being delightful to their
          being impossible. He was splendidly sunburnt; ..
          he was dressed in the loose-fitting, heterogeneous
          garments in which the English traveller in foreign
          lands is wont to consult his comfort and affirm 
          his nationality; and with his pleasant steady eyes,
          his bronzed complexion, fresh beneath its season-
          ing, his manly figure, his minimising manner and
          his general air of being a gentleman and an ex-
          plorer, he was such a representative of the Brit-
          ish race as need not in any clime have been dis-
          avowed by those who have a kindness for it ..

I think the phrase we are
looking for, in returning
to the recalcitrant enter-
tainer we think of by the
name, Henry James, is "re-
sort wear," an escapist
taste for psychological
reliability and tentative-
ness of characterization,
such as are submerged by
the present déluge. How
exotic, the acute and the
careful have come to seem,
while to James they were
just comfortable kit for
a sensible navigation.

Henry James
The Portrait of a Lady

No comments:

Post a Comment