Master Eustace by Henry James, 1871 Read the rest of this entry »
The February stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.
- ‘We Didn’t’ by Stuart Dybek
- ‘Separating’ by John Updike
- ‘A Retrieved Reformation’ by O. Henry
- ‘Postcard’ by Alice Munro
- ‘Aurora’ by Junot Diaz
- ‘Ligeia’ by Edgar Allan Poe
- ‘The Altar Of The Dead’ by Henry James
- ‘An Ounce Of Cure’ by Alice Munro
- ‘The Furnished Room’ by O. Henry
- ‘Transients In Arcadia’ by O. Henry
- ‘On The Gull’s Road’ by Willa Cather
- ‘The Skylight Room’ by O. Henry
- ‘How’ by Roxane Gay
- ‘Teller’s Ticket’ by Robert Flanagan
- ‘It Was Romance’ by Miranda July
- ‘The Romance Of A Busy Broker’ by O. Henry
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The Altar Of The Dead by Henry James, 1895 Read the rest of this entry »
The November stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.
- ‘Chickamauga’ by Ambrose Bierce
- ‘Paul’s Case’ by Willa Cather
- ‘The Veldt’ by Ray Bradbury
- ‘The Story Of An Hour’ by Kate Chopin
- ‘Of This Time, Of That Place’ by Lionel Trilling
- ‘The Nose’ by Nikolai Gogol
- ‘A White Heron’ by Sarah Orne Jewett
- ‘A Circle In The Fire’ by Flannery O’Connor
- ‘Going For A Beer’ by Robert Coover
- ‘Two Thanksgiving Gentlemen’ by O. Henry
- ‘Dawn Of Remembered Spring’ by Jesse Stuart
- ‘The Middle Years’ by Henry James
- ‘The Catbird Seat’ by James Thurber
- ‘The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story’ by Joel Chandler Harris
- ‘The Peach Stone’ by Paul Horgan
- ‘Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius’ by Jorge Luis Borges
- ‘An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving’ by Louisa May Alcott
- ‘Who Lived And Died Believing’ by Nancy Hale
- ‘The Devil And Tom Walker’ by Washington Irving
- ‘The Facts Concerning The Recent Carnival Of Crime In Connecticut’ by Mark Twain
The Middle Years by Henry James, 1893
The magic trick:
Presenting a fascinating, if sad, philosophy about writing and mortality
As per usual with James, it’s dense. As per usual with James, it’s psychological. And as per usual with James, it’s endlessly insightful and thought-provoking. “The Middle Years” focuses on a dying author looking back on his career, wishing for more success, yes, but mostly wishing simply for more time to apply what he has learned.
It reminds me of a funeral for a friend I attended a few years ago. I was so struck by the deceased man’s extensive and varied education, his knowledge. He knew so much and was still learning. It was heartbreaking to think that he had spent his whole life perfecting his knowledge base and now it was over; it was all gone. “The Middle Years” recalls that tragic thread that runs through all of our existences, and does so in the compression of a short story. And that’s quite a trick on James’s part.
He had followed literature from the first, but he had taken a lifetime to get abreast of her. Only today at last had he begun to see, so that all he had hitherto shown was a movement without a direction. He had ripened too late and was so clumsily constituted that he had had to teach himself by mistakes.
“I prefer your flowers then to other people’s fruit, and your mistakes to other people’s successes,” said gallant Doctor Hugh. “It’s for your mistakes I admire you.”
“You’re happy – you don’t know,” Dencombe answered.