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Henry James


  • ''Happy you poets who can be present and so present by a simple flicker of your genius, and not, like the clumsier race, have to lay a train and pile up faggots that may not after prove in the least combustible!''
    Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. Letter, August 25, 1915, to poet W.B. Yeats, from private collection. This passage was later incorporated into Yeats's poem, "In Memory of Major Robert Gregory."
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  • ''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.... To write well and worthily of American things one need even more than elsewhere to be a master.''
    Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. letter, Jan. 16, 1871, to editor and critic Charles Eliot Norton.
  • ''He is outside of everything, and alien everywhere. He is an aesthetic solitary. His beautiful, light imagination is the wing that on the autumn evening just brushes the dusky window.''
    Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. Anthology Library of the World's Best Literature, vol. 12, introduction (1897). Said of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
  • ''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.''
    Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. repr. In The Complete Tales of Henry James, vol. 9, ed. Leon Edel (1964). Dencombe, in The Middle Years, originally published in Scribner's, New York (May 1893).
  • ''In museums and palaces we are alternate radicals and conservatives.''
    Henry James (1843-1816), U.S. author. "Florentine Notes," sct. 3, Italian Hours (1909).
  • ''There are moods in which one feels the impulse to enter a tacit protest against too gross an appetite for pure aesthetics in this starving and sinning world. One turns half away, musingly, from certain beautiful useless things.''
    Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. "Florentine Notes," sect. 2, Italian Hours (1909).
  • ''To kill a human being is, after all, the least injury you can do him.''
    Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. repr. In The Complete Tales of Henry James, vol. 1, ed. Leon Edel (1962). George Bingham, in "My Friend Bingham," Atlantic Monthly (Boston, March 1867). Having mistakenly shot a child.
  • ''Money's a horrid thing to follow, but a charming thing to meet.''
    Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. Gilbert Osmond, in The Portrait of a Lady, ch. 35 (1881). Speaking of Isabel Archer's fortune.
  • ''She had an unequalled gift ... of squeezing big mistakes into small opportunities.''
    Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. repr. In The Real Thing and Other Tales (1893). "Greville Fane," Illustrated London News (September 17 and 24, 1892). Of Fane's command of French and Italian.
  • ''It is, I think, an indisputable fact that Americans are, as Americans, the most self-conscious people in the world, and the most addicted to the belief that the other nations of the earth are in a conspiracy to under value them.''
    Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. Hawthorne, ch. 6 (1879).

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This Curse

He sits in his room
Startled by what he sees
Not knowing what to think
Not knowing what to believe

The trembling he feels
Strickins pain inside
He can't run from his fears
He has no where to hide

[Hata Bildir]