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You see Englishmen, here in Italy, to a particularly good advantage. In the midst of these false and beautiful Italians they glow with the light of the great fact, that after all they love a bath-tub and they hate a lie. I have seen some nice Americans and I still love my country. I have called upon Mrs. Huntington and her two daughters — late of Cambridge — whom I met in Switzerland and who have an apartment here. I have kept my letter three days, hoping for news from home.

I hope you are not paying me back for that silence of six weeks ago. Blessings on your universal heads.


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The afternoon after I had posted those two letters I took a walk out of Florence to an enchanting old Chartreuse — an ancient monastery, perched up on top of a hill and turreted with little cells like a feudal castle. I attacked it and carried it by storm — i. Here I am then in the Eternal City.

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It was easy to leave Florence; the cold had become intolerable and the rain perpetual. There are several places on the route I should have been glad to see; but the weather and my own condition made a direct journey imperative. I rushed to this hotel a very slow and obstructed rush it was, I confess, thanks to the longueurs and lenteurs of the Papal dispensation and after a wash and a breakfast let myself loose on the city. From midday to dusk I have been roaming the streets. Que vous en dirai-je? At last — for the first time — I live!

Bill James

It beats everything: it leaves the Rome of your fancy — your education — nowhere. It makes Venice — Florence — Oxford — London — seem like little cities of pasteboard. In the course of four or five hours I traversed almost the whole of Rome and got a glimpse of everything — the Forum, the Coliseum stupendissimo! Angelo — all the Piazzas and ruins and monuments. The effect is something indescribable. For the first time I know what the picturesque is. In St. It was filled with foreign ecclesiastics — great armies encamped in prayer on the marble plains of its pavement — an inexhaustible physiognomical study.

To crown my day, on my way home, I met his Holiness in person — driving in prodigious purple state — sitting dim within the shadows of his coach with two uplifted benedictory fingers — like some dusky Hindoo idol in the depths of its shrine. Even if I should leave Rome tonight I should feel that I have caught the keynote of its operation on the senses.

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I have looked along the grassy vista of the Appian Way and seen the topmost stone-work of the Coliseum sitting shrouded in the light of heaven, like the edge of an Alpine chain. From the high tribune of a great chapel of St. The news of her death came to H. But as I say, my thoughts are facing squarely homeward and that is enough. But life furnishes so few incidents here that I cudgel my brains in vain. Plenty of gentle emotions from the scenery, etc. Among my fellow-patients here I find no intellectual companionship.

Never from a single Englishman of them all have I heard the first word of appreciation and enjoyment of the things here that I find delightful. To a certain extent this is natural: but not to the extent to which they carry it. I am tired of their plainness and stiffness and tastelessness — their dowdy beads and their lindsey woolsey trains. Nay, this is peevish and brutal. Personally with all their faults they are well enough. I revolt from their dreary deathly want of — what shall I call it? They live wholly in the realm of the cut and dried. Ah, but they are a great people for all that.

I re-echo with all my heart your impatience for the moment of our meeting again. All I ask for is that I may spend the interval to the best advantage — and you too. The more we shall have to say to each other the better. I see he is becoming one of our prominent magazinists. He will send me the thing from Old and New. A young Scotchman here gets the Nation sent him by his brother from N.

Whose are the three French papers on women? They are the mellow mothers and daughters of a mighty race. But I must pull in. I have still lots of unsatisfied curiosity and unexpressed affection, but they must stand over. Salute my parents and sister and believe me your brother of brothers,. As I neared the good old town I saw the great Cathedral tower, high and square, rise far into the cloud-dappled blue.


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And as I came nearer still I stopped on the bridge and viewed the great ecclesiastical pile cast downward into the yellow Severn. This is a sample of the meditations suggested in my daily walks. Envy me — if you can without hating! I wish I could describe them all — Colwell Green especially, where, weather favouring, I expect to drag myself this afternoon — where each square yard of ground lies verdantly brimming with the deepest British picturesque, and half begging, half deprecating a sketch.

You should see how a certain stile-broken footpath here winds through the meadows to a little grey rook-haunted church. Another region fertile in walks is the great line of hills. But at this rate I shall tire you out with my walks as effectually as I sometimes tire myself. Kiss mother for her letter — and for that villainous cold. I enfold you all in an immense embrace. Professor Norton and his family were still at this time in Europe. Arthur Sedgwick was Mrs. If I had needed any reminder and quickener of a very old-time intention to take some morning and put into most indifferent words my frequent thoughts of you, I should have found one very much to the purpose in a letter from Grace, received some ten days ago.

But really I needed no deeper consciousness of my great desire to punch a hole in the massive silence which has grown up between us.

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Cambridge and Boston society still rejoices in that imposing fixedness of outline which is ever so inspiring to contemplate. Arthur seems not perhaps an enthusiastic, but a well-occupied man, and talks much in a wholesome way of meaning to go abroad. Howells edits, and observes and produces — the latter in his own particular line with more and more perfection.

His recent sketches in the Atlantic , collected into a volume, belong, I think, by the wondrous cunning of their manner, to very good literature. Looking about for myself, I conclude that the face of nature and civilization in this our country is to a certain point a very sufficient literary field. But it will yield its secrets only to a really grasping imagination. This I think Howells lacks. To write well and worthily of American things one need even more than elsewhere to be a master.

But unfortunately one is less! I myself have been scribbling some little tales which in the course of time you will have a chance to read.

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To write a series of good little tales I deem ample work for a life-time. I dream that my life-time shall have done it. There is an immensity of stupid feeling and brutal writing prevalent here about recent English conduct and attitude — innocuous to some extent, I think, from its very stupidity; but I confess there are now, to my mind, few things of more appealing interest than the various problems with which England finds herself confronted: and this owing to the fact that, on the whole, the country is so deeply — so tragically — charged with a consciousness of her responsibilities, dangers and duties.

She presents in this respect a wondrous contrast to ourselves. We, retarding our healthy progress by all the gross weight of our maniac contempt of the refined idea: England striving vainly to compel her lumbersome carcase by the straining wings of conscience and desire. Of course I speak of the better spirits there and the worst here. We have over here the high natural light of chance and space and prosperity; but at moments dark things seem to be almost more blessed by the dimmer radiance shed by impassioned thought. But I must stay my gossiping hand.

This next visit to Europe had begun in the spring of He had reached Germany, in the company of his sister and aunt, by way of England, Switzerland and Italy. I think I should manifest an energy more becoming a child of yours if I were to sustain my nodding head at least enough longer to scrawl the initial words of my usual letter: we are travellers in the midst of travel. It has a fine lot of old pictures, but otherwise it is a nightmare of pretentious vacuity: a city of chalky stucco — a Florence and Athens in canvas and planks.

To have come [thither] from Venice is a sensation! We came on hither by a morning and noon of railway, which has not in the least prevented a goodly afternoon and evening at the Castle here. The castle which I think you have all seen in your own travels is an incomparable ruin and holds its own against any Italian memories. The light, the weather, the time, were all, this evening, most propitious to our visit.

This rapid week in Germany has filled us with reflections and observations, tossed from the railway windows on our course, and irrecoverable at this late hour. To me this hasty and most partial glimpse of Germany has been most satisfactory; it has cleared from my mind the last mists of uncertainty and assured me that I can never hope to become an unworthiest adoptive grandchild of the fatherland.