Henry James: Man and Author

Henry James: Man and Author

Henry James: Man and Author

Henry James: Man and Author

Excerpt

When George Withermore was asked by Ashton Doyne's widow to undertake the biography of her husband, the young man accepted with zest the flattering commission. Working night by night in the room itself where so many masterpieces had been conceived and executed he grew sensible of the inflowing of the dead man's spirit, and his own pages became miracles of divination. In them the master lived again, his every tone and gesture recaptured, and every lovable idiosyncrasy revived with an intimacy from which there was no escape. So the flowing work continues until one evening the menacing figure of the great man stands on the threshold of the library, and Withermore accepts the portent as an indication that the world had already been vouchsafed in the master's written record the only revelation it was entitled to receive.

Whatever the application that James intended by his apologue of The Real Right Thing, it is true that no writer of our modern day has succeeded better than the subject of this study in sheltering his privacy in life and providing for it after his death. For the legitimate curiosity of posterity he felt that he had made sufficient provision in the volumes in which, with tantalising complexity it must be confessed, he traced the pattern of his early years; and when the circle that claimed his friendship shall have disappeared these biographical . . .

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