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Item   Title MB Now at Next bid Bids New bid Max bid  
618   Henry James  $200 $770 $847 15 You must login to place a bid.

#618 - Henry James

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The author dismisses a story of his own—“I daresay it is one of the worst I was ever guilty of”

ALS, seven pages, 4.5 x 7, personal letterhead, November 13, 1894. Letter to poet, philologist, and co-founder of the Society for Psychical Research, Frederic William Henry Myers. In part: “To such a reader as you, such a delightful observer, rememberer, liker, who would not concede everything? It costs me no struggle of pride whatever to say that you must be absolutely right: there is a clear luxury of gratitude in it. Of Georgina's Reasons I mainly remember that I thought them pretty bad at the time—I mean thought the tale a feeble one, and that impression has remained with me. I daresay it is one of the worst I was ever guilty of. I have been looking for it this a.m.—to appreciate your remarks better, but I find that I seem to be without the volume that contains it. The thing is dim to me; what they did, and what they should have done; there only sticks to me rather definitely the memory of the limited anecdote (told me by a friend, a lady, as something told to her—and having happened in some American western town,) in which I originally saw the adumbration of a story. In general, moreover, I think that after one has done, tant bien que mal, a thing of that sort, one becomes intensely irresponsible about it—getting away from it as from a kind of relinquished execution or terminated connection. That, at least, is the feeble way I feel. One saw it, one did it, with all the vividness that was in one at the time; but the act accomplished and the spasm over, one can't relive the experience, one can only thirst for another—with different material. So it is that I, at least, can never lift my finger to defend or to explain. There they are, poor things, and why they were I did once seem to know; but I have always consentingly forgotten. So moreover it is that when the ingenuous ask which of one's 'things' one likes best, I am filled [with] a secret horror at being suffered to 'like' any of them. I loathe them all! What I 'like' is the art—more than I can say; and the works have only a temporary tolerance—reflected from that. Nonetheless I am inconsequent enough to like immensely those who also tolerate. You are admirably generous. I remember Miss Van W. as an affliction—a distinct distress—and am glad she continues to be eluded. I don't know Lord C. or his veritable bride. You make me want awfully to be more flagrantly 'productive': to really go it.” James, cramped for space, signed vertically on the third page; all writing on one page has also been purposefully obliterated and struck through in ink. Light toning and various stray ink blots, otherwise fine condition. Georgina's Reasons had originally been published by Henry James in three installments in the New York Sun in 1884. It was reprinted in The Author of Beltraffio and again in Stories Revisited, II, 1885. In the story Georgina, a New York girl, commits bigamy and disposes of the child of her first marriage to an Italian family. The reasons for her strange conduct are never given. A fascinating and rare account of an author discussing his process and offering criticism of his own work. Pre-certified PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.

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