Henry James, An English New Year

Gosh James is a wonderful writer. I often forget how much of this stellar craft has  been lost in recent years. Here James illustrates his brilliance in what seems to be a short extract from something larger, a brief observation of sorts, a muse, which ends with an abrupt and somewhat dissatisfying insight.

I love the way that James captures London:

“But there are fogs and fogs, and the folds of the black mantle have been during the present winter intolerably thick. The thickness that draws down and absorbs the smoke of the housetops, causes it to hang about the streets in impenetrable density, forces it into one’s eyes and down one’s throat, so that one is half blinded and quite sickened – this form of the particular plague has been much more frequent than usual.”

Having spent much time in this great city I know this fog which he describes… I swam through that fog and it is one of the things that makes London skies seem so low.

This little piece is worth reading just to revel in James’ artfulness.


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