Caring Democracy: Markets, Equality, and Justice

Caring Democracy: Markets, Equality, and Justice

Caring Democracy: Markets, Equality, and Justice

Caring Democracy: Markets, Equality, and Justice

Excerpt

In the summer of 1914, from his sanctuary at Lamb House in Rye, England, Henry James wrote a small letter he addressed to “Mrs. Fields.” This was Annie Adams Fields, the widow of Boston publisher James Fields and, for nearly a quarter of a century, the intimate companion of another famed American writer, Sarah Orne Jewett, who had died in 1909. (Fields was herself to die, at age eighty, in January of 1915.) “Dear Mrs. Fields,” James begins,

I have left so many days unacknowledged the so beautiful & touching letter
prompted by your generous appreciation of my volume of Notes. The reason
is largely that even still the high pressure London of June & July is always
at some big interrupting assault on one’s time or one’s preferences, & that I
have been but within a few days able to break away from it & get down into
these quieter conditions. The arrears of my correspondence—a very desper
ate quantity—have had more than ever to wait. It is meanwhile the sympathy
of all old friends from far back like yourself, of “those who know,” as Dante
says, that is the reward of my attempt to reach back a little to the unspeakable
past. I really like to think of those who know what I am talking about—&
such readers are now of the fewest. We both have had friends all the way
along, however; & I mustn’t speak as if we were too bleakly stranded today.
The only thing is, none the less, that almost nobody understands what we
mean, do they?—we can say that to each other (and to Mrs. Bell & to Miss
Howe) even if we can’t say it to them. I think of you very faithfully & grate
fully & tenderly, & am yours affectionately always Henry James

Everything about this marks it as, distinctively, late James: the attenuated syntax, the gestures toward referents both obscure and strangely . . .

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