Quotations From HENRY JAMES


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  • 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).

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  • 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).

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  • It takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature.
    Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. Hawthorne, ch. 1 (1879).

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  • In museums and palaces we are alternate radicals and conservatives.
    Henry James (1843-1816), U.S. author. "Florentine Notes," sct. 3, Italian Hours (1909).
  • 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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  • However British you may be, I am more British still.
    Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. quoted in H. Montgomery Hyde, Henry James at Home, ch. 7, sct. 5 (1969). The remark was made to two English friends at the beginning of August 1914 and reported in a letter written by the poet and critic Edmund Gosse to the Times (London, March 4, 1916).
  • I hold any writer sufficiently justified who is himself in love with his theme.
    Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. "Venice," Italian Hours (written 1882, publ. 1909).

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  • Experience was to be taken as showing that one might get a five-pound note as one got a light for a cigarette; but one had to check the friendly impulse to ask for it in the same way.
    Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. The Awkward Age, bk. 4, ch. 1 (1899).

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  • The only obligation to which in advance we may hold a novel, without incurring the accusation of being arbitrary, is that it be interesting.
    Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. repr. In Partial Portraits (1888). The Art of Fiction (1884).
  • The time-honored bread-sauce of the happy ending.
    Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. author. Theatricals: Second Series, prefatory note (1894).

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