Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch
cbertsch

"Again, Again!"

I've been teaching Henry James's The Wings of the Dove for the past two weeks. The more time I spend with the text, the more I want to spend time reliving its highlights:
It played for him--certainly in this prime afterglow--the part of a treasure kept at home in safety and sanctity, something he was sure of finding in its place when, with each return, he worked his heavy old key in the lock. The door had but to open for him to be with it again and for it to be all there; so intensely there that, as we say, no other act was possible to him than the renewed act, almost the hallucination, of intimacy. Wherever he looked or sat or stood, to whatever aspect he gave for the instant the advantage, it was in view as nothing of the moment, nothing begotten of time or of chance could be, or ever would; it was in view as, when the curtain has risen, the play on the stage is in view, night after night, for the fiddlers. He remained thus, in his own theatre, in his single person, perpetual orchestra to the ordered drama, the confirmed "run"; playing low and slow, moreover, in the regular way, for the situations of most importance.
Although not given to brevity, James has a wonderful way of temporarily directing his peripatetic syntax to the desired end, to the ends of desire. "Playing low and slow" is an excellent example. Clearly, this is a man who would have understood what to do with the shuttle on a remote control.
Tags: commonplace book, literature, teaching
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