Sunday, October 19, 2014

Quotes and a thought

Bear with me...

Henry James appears, in this quote from this article , to be on the "Art", not the "Theory" side:

"We must grant the artist his subject, his idea, what the French call his donnĂ©e; our criticism is applied only to what he makes of it. Naturally I do not mean that we are bound to like it or find it interesting: in case we do not our course is perfectly simple—to let it alone. We may believe that of a certain idea even the most sincere novelist can make nothing at all, and the event may perfectly justify our belief; but the failure will have been a failure to execute, and it is in the execution that the fatal weakness is recorded."

Well said; Nabokov couldn't have said it better. It is a writer's article, whether or not you like James, one of the better recent critical ones in the NYorker. My fellow cultured barbarians should remember that James loved Kipling, and Hemingway, who read everything, loved with whatever reservations Henry James.

On the other other hand, I am reminded of a sort of koan by Bron Fullington back in the Seventies: "American culture is a duel between the two sets of James brothers..."

"Keep on ridin' ridin' ridin'..." (Warren Zevon, who also read everything)


randy davis said...

Ford Maddox Fords memoir which title I can t recall presents Henry James as a charismatic striking figure even alongside Crane, Conrad, Hudson and RB C-G - in a way you never think of James from reading him

Gerard H. Cox said...

I like the notion of a duel between the two James brothers: I'll happily be a second for William.

I also cherish the Englishwoman's remark about Henry: "Poor James! He just didn't know the right people!"

Malcolm Brooks said...

I think he means Frank and Jesse vs. Bill and Hank...and if not, I want to coin it myself!

Steve Bodio said...

She-- Bronwen Fullington, my first wife and still friend-- and you got it!