11 March 2009

Portrait of a Lady - Henry James

Why do I keep reading Henry James' novels? He is the author whom I've read the most but that I dislike. Why read books from someone I dislike - this is a question I often wonder. I suppose in my aim to read the top novels of all time, I will end up reading some novels that I don't really love!

In actuality, of all the James novels, "Portrait of a Lady" is both the best written and the most enjoyable. James has been accused of a writer's writer; translation: he writes well written yet BORING novels. Nothing happens, or rather, molasses moves faster than the plot. Sure, the characters are well developed; sure there are a tonne of literary devices; sure the setting is timely and evocative; and sure there are subtle yet definable critique on the state of society at the turn of the century, particularly differences between Old and New World in Europe and America; but can I get some plot! I mean, it wouldn't hurt to throw James to throw in a murder or two, would it? Jeesh....

If I marry an interesting woman I shall be interested; is that what you say? I'm not at all keen about marrying - your son misrepresented me; but there's no knowing what an interesting woman might do with me.

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