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Ebook A Small Boy and Others by Henry James read! Book Title: A Small Boy and Others
The author of the book: Henry James
Edition: Turtle Point Press
Date of issue: September 1st 2008
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 962 KB
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 1227 times
Reader ratings: 5.7
ISBN: 1885586183
ISBN 13: 9781885586186
Language: English

Read full description of the books:



Beset as one avowedly is by vernal distractions—I speak of those amplitudes of exposed bosom, those beguiling expanses of derrière sheathed in lycra, whose appearance heralds, more surely than the robin, the advent of spring—thus beset, I say, it is doubtful whether a mere book review, however eagerly undertaken, could represent the ideal disposal of one’s lamentably scant provision of time and energy.

Yeah, I’ll stop now, cuz man, writing like Henry James is almost as exhausting as reading Henry James.

Depending on your mood and tolerance level, James’ hyper-mandarin late style can either be pure bliss or pure torture. Or, as in my case, some masochistic combination of the two. Reading A Small Boy and Others, I kept thinking, “Jesus, Hank, this is lovely. Just exquisite. But what the hell are you talking about?” Too often, his fussy little revelations get lost in the syntactical finery of the prose. It’s like opening an elaborately made-up parcel—ribbons, Styrofoam chips, tissue paper—only to find a ten-dollar gift card from Wendy’s. Gee, thanks, grandma.

Here’s what I mean (and this is a fairly straightforward sentence by his standards):

Infinitely queer and quaint, almost incongruously droll, the sense somehow begotten in ourselves, as very young persons, of our being surrounded by a slightly remote, yet dimly rich, outer and quite kindred circle of the tipsy.

Translation: there were a lot of drunks in the family. Sure, it’s kind of funny the way he puts it—or not funny, exactly, but ‘droll’, very droll (you can almost hear James’ effeminate titter at his own cleverness). But, come on, dude, a little brevity with your wit.

So by now you might be asking yourself: is this Henry James guy really worth the pain in the ass, because I’ve got four hungry children and a crop in the field, you know? Yes, yes, he is. Mos def (I only speak for A Small Boy: my thoughts on the big, dense novels of his last period are between me and God). There are solid compensations here for all the artsy-fartsy mannerisms he subjects you to.

Ostensibly a memoir, A Small Boy dispenses with most of the usual genre markers—like, you know, facts and dates and stuff—in order to reconstruct the moral ambience of James’ childhood. He tell us on the first page that he wants to write about his brother William (then recently dead) but soon forgets about this pious little project, leaving poor William a vague, otherworldly presence for most of the book. Instead, he gives us a series of highly-subjective impressions, both of places (New York, Paris) and of the curious ‘types’ that peopled them. And somewhere at the back of everything there’s this neat little submerged künstlerroman unfolding, too (What? Künstlerroman? It’s a perfectly cromulent word.)

James was an old man when he came to write A Small Boy, and there’s something avaricious about the way he fondles his glittering hoard of memories. Sixty years on, he’s still savouring ‘the orgy of the senses and riot of the mind’ that was his childhood. The strongest passages in the book—passages where he loses himself in a sort of delirium of recollection—are those that evoke the ‘lost paradise’ of old New York, as seen through the eyes of a strange, observant little boy who can only marvel at the bewildering profusion of the city:

I have still in my nostril the sense of the abords of the hot town, the rank and rubbishy waterside quarters, where big loose cobbles, for the least of all the base items, lay wrenched from their sockets of pungent black mud and where the dependent streets managed by a law of their own to be all corners and the corners all groceries; and the groceries indeed largely of the “green” order, so far as greenness could persist in the torrid air, and that bristled, in glorious defiance of traffic, with the overflow of their wares and implements…Why the throb of romance should have beat time for me to such visions I can scarce explain, or can explain only by the fact that the squalor was a squalor wonderfully mixed and seasoned…

James’ New York is still half-wild and only fitfully cosmopolitan; if a nascent theatre industry has already plastered Broadway with garish playbills, there are still goats grazing in vacant lots and coaches getting bogged down in unpaved streets. In this semi-urbanized Arcadia of ice-cream parlours and waffle stands, the young James ‘dawdles’ and ‘gapes’ (two of his favourite verbs) like some precocious flâneur, a Yankee Baudelaire in a sailor suit.

My quarrel with the book is part of the larger, class-based quarrel I’ve always had with James. His attitude is very much that of the rentier, someone who can afford to remain vague about certain large facts—sex and politics come to mind—while taking a dilettantish pleasure in the free play of his own capacious consciousness. In the Jamesian economy, consciousness is the ultimate consumer good, a luxury item only available to those with expensively-formed tastes and high-powered perceptions. I genuinely admire the man’s writing, but in the same way that I admire the sleek design of a Jaguar: a little resentfully, from a distance, and with the suppressed desire to smash its owner’s smug, stupid face.

But whatevs. A great book is its own justification, isn’t it? And scruples are for lightweights. I really did love A Small Boy, and if that makes me a traitor to my principles—well, that’s cool. I can get new ones.


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Read information about the author

Ebook A Small Boy and Others read Online! Henry James, OM, son of theologian Henry James Sr., brother of the philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James, was an American-born author, one of the founders and leaders of a school of realism in fiction. He spent much of his life in England and became a British subject shortly before his death. He is primarily known for a series of major novels in which he portrayed the encounter of America with Europe. His plots centered on personal relationships, the proper exercise of power in such relationships, and other moral questions. His method of writing from the point of view of a character within a tale allowed him to explore the phenomena of consciousness and perception, and his style in later works has been compared to impressionist painting.
James insisted that writers in Great Britain and America should be allowed the greatest freedom possible in presenting their view of the world, as French authors were. His imaginative use of point of view, interior monologue and unreliable narrators in his own novels and tales brought a new depth and interest to realistic fiction, and foreshadowed the modernist work of the twentieth century. An extraordinarily productive writer, in addition to his voluminous works of fiction he published articles and books of travel writing, biography, autobiography, and criticism,and wrote plays, some of which were performed during his lifetime with moderate success. His theatrical work is thought to have profoundly influenced his later novels and tales.


Reviews of the A Small Boy and Others


ARTHUR

A charming book, a lot more!

RILEY

After this book, I look at the world with different eyes!

ERIN

Total disappointment

LUKE

The book is very deep! Tip for Reading.

EVIE

All right, thanks fast.




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