THOUGH Henry James lived to the age of seventy-three, and though his . I do not find much that I should call dramatic in “The Portrait of a Lady,” while I do find . The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions. Download The Portrait of a Lady free in PDF & EPUB format. Download Henry James.'s The Portrait of a Lady for your site, tablet, IPAD, PC.
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HENRY JAMES. THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. CHAPTER I. Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to. The Portrait of a Lady. Henry James. This eBook was designed and published by Planet PDF. For more free. eBooks visit our Web site at. Free download of The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. Available in PDF, ePub and site. Read, write reviews and more.
Isabel later declines Warburton's sudden proposal of marriage. She also rejects the hand of Caspar Goodwood, the charismatic son and heir of a wealthy Boston mill owner. Although Isabel is drawn to Caspar, her commitment to her independence precludes such a marriage, which she feels would demand the sacrifice of her freedom. The elder Touchett grows ill and, at the request of his son, Ralph, leaves much of his estate to Isabel upon his death.
Although Isabel had previously rejected both Warburton and Goodwood, she accepts Osmond's proposal of marriage, unaware that it has been actively promoted by the accomplished but untrustworthy Madame Merle, another American expatriate, whom Isabel had met at the Touchetts' estate.
Isabel and Osmond settle in Rome, but their marriage rapidly sours due to Osmond's overwhelming egotism and lack of genuine affection for his wife.
Isabel grows fond of Pansy, Osmond's presumed daughter by his first marriage, and wants to grant her wish to marry Edward Rosier, a young art collector.
The snobbish Osmond would prefer that Pansy accept the proposal of Warburton, who had previously proposed to Isabel. Isabel suspects, however, that Warburton may just be feigning interest in Pansy to get close to Isabel again, and the conflict creates even more strain within the unhappy marriage.
Isabel then learns that Ralph is dying at his estate in England and prepares to go to him for his final hours, but Osmond selfishly opposes this plan. Meanwhile, Isabel learns from her sister-in-law that Pansy is actually the daughter of Madame Merle, who had had an adulterous relationship with Osmond for several years.
Isabel pays a final visit to Pansy, who desperately begs her to return someday, which Isabel reluctantly promises to do. She then leaves, without telling her spiteful husband, to comfort the dying Ralph in England, where she remains until his death.
Goodwood encounters her at Ralph's estate, and begs her to leave Osmond and come away with him. He passionately embraces and kisses her, but Isabel flees.
Goodwood seeks her out the next day but is told she has set off again for Rome.
There are pages of the book which, in the reading over, have seemed to make me see again the bristling curve of the wide Riva, the large colour-spots of the balconied houses and the repeated undulation of the little hunchbacked bridges, marked by the rise and drop again, with the wave, of foreshortened clicking pedestrians. I recollect again and again, in beautiful places, dropping into that wonderment. We profit by that enormously, but to do so we must either be quite off duty or be on it in her service alone.
Strangely fertilising, in the long run, does a wasted effort of attention often prove. It all depends on HOW the attention has been cheated, has been squandered.
There are high-handed insolent frauds, and there are insidious sneaking ones.
I have always fondly remembered a remark that I heard fall years ago from the lips of Ivan Turgenieff in regard to his own experience of the usual origin of the fictive picture.
It began for him almost always with the vision of some person or persons, who hovered before him, soliciting him, as the active or passive figure, interesting him and appealing to him just as they were and by what they were.
He saw them, in that fashion, as disponibles, saw them subject to the chances, the complications of existence, and saw them vividly, but then had to find for them the right relations, those that would most bring them out; to imagine, to invent and select and piece together the situations most useful and favourable to the sense of the creatures themselves, the complications they would be most likely to produce and to feel.
I seem to myself to have as much as I need — to show my people, to exhibit their relations with each other; for that is all my measure. The French of course like more of it than I give — having by their own genius such a hand for it; and indeed one must give all one can. We have to go too far back, too far behind, to say.
The Portrait of a Lady
They accumulate, and we are always picking them over, selecting among them. They are the breath of life — by which I mean that life, in its own way, breathes them upon us. They are so, in a manner prescribed and imposed — floated into our minds by the current of life.
Will he point out then which other it should properly have been? Il en serait bien embarrasse. I was myself so much more antecedently conscious of my figures than of their setting — a too preliminary, a preferential interest in which struck me as in general such a putting of the cart before the horse.
Other echoes from the same source linger with me, I confess, as unfadingly — if it be not all indeed one much-embracing echo.
Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James
Recognising so promptly the one measure of the worth of a given subject, the question about it that, rightly answered, disposes of all others — is it valid, in a word, is it genuine, is it sincere, the result of some direct impression or perception of life? That element is but another name for the more or less close connexion of the subject with some mark made on the intelligence, with some sincere experience.
Here we get exactly the high price of the novel as a literary form — its power not only, while preserving that form with closeness, to range through all the differences of the individual relation to its general subject-matter, all the varieties of outlook on life, of disposition to reflect and project, created by conditions that are never the same from man to man or, so far as that goes, from man to woman , but positively to appear more true to its character in proportion as it strains, or tends to burst, with a latent extravagance, its mould.
The house of fiction has in short not one window, but a million — a number of possible windows not to be reckoned, rather; every one of which has been pierced, or is still pierceable, in its vast front, by the need of the individual vision and by the pressure of the individual will.
These apertures, of dissimilar shape and size, hang so, all together, over the human scene that we might have expected of them a greater sameness of report than we find.
They are but windows at the best, mere holes in a dead wall, disconnected, perched aloft; they are not hinged doors opening straight upon life.
But they have this mark of their own that at each of them stands a figure with a pair of eyes, or at least with a field-glass, which forms, again and again, for observation, a unique instrument, insuring to the person making use of it an impression distinct from every other.
He and his neighbours are watching the same show, but one seeing more where the other sees less, one seeing black where the other sees white, one seeing big where the other sees small, one seeing coarse where the other sees fine. Enough that I was, as seemed to me, in complete possession of it, that I had been so for a long time, that this had made it familiar and yet had not blurred its charm, and that, all urgently, all tormentingly, I saw it in motion and, so to speak, in transit.
This amounts to saying that I saw it as bent upon its fate — some fate or other; which, among the possibilities, being precisely the question. Thus I had my vivid individual — vivid, so strangely, in spite of being still at large, not confined by the conditions, not engaged in the tangle, to which we look for much of the impress that constitutes an identity.
If the apparition was still all to be placed how came it to be vivid?
One would describe then what, at a given time, had extraordinarily happened to it, and one would so, for instance, be in a position to tell, with an approach to clearness, how, under favour of occasion, it had been able to take over take over straight from life such and such a constituted, animated figure or form.
For there ARE dealers in these forms and figures and treasures capable of that refinement. That is to me, artistically speaking, the circumstance of interest; for I have lost myself once more, I confess, in the curiosity of analysing the structure.
Millions of presumptuous girls, intelligent or not intelligent, daily affront their destiny, and what is it open to their destiny to be, at the most, that we should make an ado about it? Therefore, consciously, that was what one was in for — for positively organising an ado about Isabel Archer. One looked it well in the face, I seem to remember, this extravagance; and with the effect precisely of recognising the charm of the problem.
Challenge any such problem with any intelligence, and you immediately see how full it is of substance; the wonder being, all the while, as we look at the world, how absolutely, how inordinately, the Isabel Archers, and even much smaller female fry, insist on mattering.
They are typical, none the less, of a class difficult, in the individual case, to make a centre of interest; so difficult in fact that many an expert painter, as for instance Dickens and Walter Scott, as for instance even, in the main, so subtle a hand as that of R.
Stevenson, has preferred to leave the task unattempted. There are in fact writers as to whom we make out that their refuge from this is to assume it to be not worth their attempting; by which pusillanimity in truth their honour is scantly saved.
It is never an attestation of a value, or even of our imperfect sense of one, it is never a tribute to any truth at all, that we shall represent that value badly. There are better ways than that, the best of all of which is to begin with less stupidity.
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Cleopatra matters, beyond bounds, to Antony, but his colleagues, his antagonists, the state of Rome and the impending battle also prodigiously matter; Portia matters to Antonio, and to Shylock, and to the Prince of Morocco, to the fifty aspiring princes, but for these gentry there are other lively concerns; for Antonio, notably, there are Shylock and Bassanio and his lost ventures and the extremity of his predicament.
This extremity indeed, by the same token, matters to Portia — though its doing so becomes of interest all by the fact that Portia matters to US. That she does so, at any rate, and that almost everything comes round to it again, supports my contention as to this fine example of the value recognised in the mere young thing.A point I wish still more to make is that if my relation of confidence with the actors in my drama who WERE, unlike Miss Stackpole, true agents, was an excellent one to have arrived at, there still remained my relation with the reader, which was another affair altogether and as to which I felt no one to be trusted but myself.
Jun 26, Pages download. I will presently say what I can for that anomaly — and in the most conciliatory fashion. Also by Henry James. Other books by author Millions of presumptuous girls, intelligent or not intelligent, daily affront their destiny, and what is it open to their destiny to be, at the most, that we should make an ado about it?
One looked it well in the face, I seem to remember, this extravagance; and with the effect precisely of recognising the charm of the problem.
Will he point out then which other it should properly have been? If the apparition was still all to be placed how came it to be vivid?
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