After prolonged engagement with the works of Henry James, one not uncommonly discovers oneself attempting to strike off lovely looping sentences, sentences that seem to unravel without themselves quite becoming unraveled, pausing, immitigably, for the oddest adverbial interpositions, pausing again, mitigably, for the most dazzlingly elaborate metaphors, sentences that are dipped, even drenched in the most delicious irony, yet, for all this oh so fragile verbal freight, churn merrily along their way, still full of steam and cadence, to close on some slightly oblique but nonetheless utterly deft perception. I parody, but, after having arisen from reading the four volumes of the Henry James Letters, the last of which has just been published,[1] who wouldn’t? The Henry James prose style, though surely no disease, is nevertheless highly...


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