Henry James – The Middle Years

A promise not kept

March 1st. 1869. Henry James arrived in Liverpool and, had a sudden whim to go London, the city with which he immediately established a  love/hate relationship and where he came into contact with people such as George Eliot, Alfred Tennyson and James Russell Lowell.
Begun in 1914 and never finished, this third volume of James’s autobiography, (after A Small Boy and Others and Notes of a Son and Brother) appears to be an introduction to what the author wanted to tell before a heart attack prevented him to do so. These pages are often confused, fragmented, lacking the clarity which the author accustomed us to: events and impressions pile up unevenly in a text that the author doesn’t seem to have had the opportunity to review. As Virginia Woolf wrote, in her introductory pages which provide James’narrating context, ‘we seem to have only a prelude of what we are going to read in our hands, only the first taste of a banquet that is now and forever denied to us’.
Mrs. Greville’s portrait is unforgettable.

Translation by Silvia Accorrà (edited by Sabrina Macchi)