More on Henry James or ‘the essential loneliness of my life’

My immediate thought on reading the above quote was, ‘ Isn’t that what makes a writer?

Recently I saw a word press blog post by a writer complaining of his boredom, as though the task of writing was just that, a task, laborious and tiresome. I fail to understand, if he feels that way, just why do it since, with the exception of the very, and still more dwindling few, it is hardly lucrative ? However, it has been described as a ‘arduous profession’ by no less than Henry James.

The most arduous part, to me being the pursuit of publication the drudge of submissions.  Mr James  published his novel The Ambassadors in a popular journal in weekly or monthly installments before the book was actually printed. A current practice of the time.

In the preface  of the copy I borrowed from the excellent Bibliothèque Louis Nucéra in Nice I noted an interesting and for me, significant anecdote. Because of the ‘peculiar diffuseness and obscurity of the prose’ the chapters were mixed up and inserted in the wrong place. This was not detected nor corrected for fifty years after its original editions were published. His time scheme apparently caused the editorial confusion. To further paraphrase the writer of the Introduction to this edition, Harry Levin,  this was possibly because the story is reflected rather than narrated. The author here has a tendency to anticipate or reminisce over events, not necessarily sequential or even really having taken, or to eventually take place, within the story.

This, for my own, admittedly untrained but instinctive style comes as an encouraging acknowledgment that we do not necessarily have to fit into the popular view of the novel. Whatever our academic background, it is style that counts in the end. One of the characters in the novel advises another to take time when reading, the thread that links is stretched scientifically tightly, he admonishes, do not break that thread. I intend to take that advice with The Ambassadors.

Another admission by this illustrious author, again a vindication of a perfectly natural fact often presented as if it were a criticism in so many writers work was that he admitted freely,

the vague resemblance between the poor old hero and himself.

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