Pushkin Press £12
Henry James: Letters to Isabella Stewart Gardner, ed Rosella Mamoli Zorzi
Sunday 17 January 2010
Such gossipy, effusive letters as these from Henry James to the wealthy American art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner, full of apologies for broken appointments (usually by James, on account of double-booking), let us see just why James was such a sought-after dinner-party guest: he knew everybody, he was indiscreet but never vulgar or crude, he knew when to strike an intimate tone and when to keep his distance, and he was always full of feeling ("Was there ever anything so tragical – so melting? But I can't write of it or talk of it...").
This is not the repressed, private James that Colm Toibin portrayed so brilliantly in The Master, this is the fun, sociable James that David Lodge fell for in Author, Author; who is interested in others' love affairs and passes the occasional bitchy remark that his society friend clearly relished. Yet his friendship with Gardner clearly went beyond mere sociability and his letters to her on the deaths of her husband and his brother are moving ("Sitting in darkness though I thoroughly am...").
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rules on 5p plastic bags likely to lead to arguments at the check-out
- 2 Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
- 3 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
- 4 News agency criticised for describing Amal Clooney as 'actor's wife' in coverage of human rights trial
- 5 David De Gea to Real Madrid: Real finally get their man with £29m bid for Manchester United goalkeeper
X Factor hopeful Mason Noise: 'How is Cheryl Fernandez-Versini in the music business, let alone a judge?'
Game of Thrones season 6: Director promises most exciting premiere yet 'starts off with a bang'
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Online toy marathon to launch new film
Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet: Technician quits after social media row with actor's fans
Evian Christ cancels Reading festival appearance after being 'trapped in a cage' at Leeds by staff
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn