Happy Birthday to Henry James!



1. “Deep experience is never peaceful.” (Madame de Mauves, 1874)

2. “True happiness, we are told, consists in getting out of one’s self; but the point is not only to get out — you must stay out; and to stay out you must have some absorbing errand.” (Roderick Hudson, 1875)

3. “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” (Qtd Leon Edel, Henry James: A Life, 1972)

4. “Don’t mind anything anyone tells you about anyone else. Judge everyone and everything for yourself.” (The Portrait of a Lady, 1881)

5. “To take what there is, and use it, without waiting forever in vain for the preconceived — to dig deep into the actual and get something out of that — this doubtless is the right way to live.” (Notebook entry, 1889)

6. “However incumbent it may be on most of us to do our duty, there is, in spite of a thousand narrow dogmatisms, nothing in the world that anyone is under the least obligation to like — not even (one braces one’s self to risk the declaration) a particular kind of writing.” (Flaubert, 1893)

7. “Live all you can — it’s a mistake not to. It doesn’t so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have your life. If you haven’t had that, what have you had?…Live!” (The Ambassadors, 1903)

8. “It takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature.” (Hawthorne, 1879)

9. “Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web, of the finest silken threads, suspended in the chamber of consciousness and catching every air-borne particle in its tissue.” (The Art of Fiction, 1884)

10. “Life being all inclusion and confusion, and art being all discrimination and selection, the latter, in search of the hard latent value with which it alone is concerned, sniffs round the mass as instinctively and unerringly as a dog suspicious of some buried bone.” (The Spoils of Poynton, 1897)

Today I remember a delightful conversation I had with Judi Christopher about Henry James.  Her perceptions were bright and brilliant and her enthusiasm was deep and insightful.  She liked Henry James a lot, so today I salute her and her memory.  It’s hard to believe that she’s been gone almost 6 years.

One thought on “Happy Birthday to Henry James!

  1. I raise my virtual glass to Judy. A lovely tribute to her, Natalie.

    I was reminded when I joined that I had a WordPress username from several years ago! Kilowattsofgrace. I had to trace that back for a minute or so and finally looked it up: it’s from a Ray Wiley Hubbard song, “All it takes is some grains of faith/and a few kilowatts of sweat and grace.”

    I will revisit Ray Wylie Hubbard’s work over the next several days and perhaps I will be inspired by the stories he sings.

    Thanks, Natalie, for organizing our blog!


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