Awkward Age

Awkward Age

Awkward Age

Awkward Age

Excerpt

I recall with perfect ease the idea in which The Awkward Age had its origin, but reperusal gives me pause in respect to naming it. This composition, as it stands, makes, to my vision--and will have made perhaps still more to that of its readers--so considerable a mass beside the germ sunk in it and still possibly distinguishable, that I am half-moved to leave my small secret undivulged. I shall encounter, I think, in the course of this copious commentary, no better example, and none on behalf of which I shall venture to invite more interest, of the quite incalculable tendency of a mere grain of subject-matter to expand and develop and cover the ground when conditions happen to favour it. I say all, surely, when I speak of the thing as planned, in perfect good faith, for brevity, for levity, for simplicity, for jocosity, in fine, and for an accommodating irony. I invoked, for my protection, the spirit of the lightest comedy, but The Awkward Age was to belong, in the event, to a group of productions, here reintroduced, which have in common, to their author's eyes, the endearing sign that they assisted in each case an unforeseen principle of growth. They were projected as small things, yet had finally to be provided for as comparative monsters. That is my own title for them, though I should perhaps resent it if applied by another critic--above all in the case of the piece before us, the careful measure of which I have just freshly taken. The result of this consideration has been in the first place to render sharp for me again the interest of the whole process thus illustrated, and in the second quite to place me on unexpectedly good terms with the work itself. As I scan my list I encounter none the 'history' of which embodies a greater number of curious truths--or of truths at least by which I find contemplation more enlivened. The thing done and dismissed has ever, at the best, for the . . .

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