24 January 2011

Cadaverous Grace

"On the whole, (Henry James) spoke as he wrote, which sometimes led him to exasperating extremes… In his zeal for clarity, his speech became utterly oblique and obscure, and, on one occasion, when referring to a dog, and wishing to avoid the actual word, he ended up defining it as “something black, something canine”. He found himself equally unable to declare that an actress was frankly ugly, and had to make do with saying that “one of the poor wantons had a certain cadaverous grace.”"
From “Henry James on a Visit” in Javier MarĂ­as’ Written Lives, which Iain Finlayson of The Times has called “an artful antidote to the ‘exhaustive and futile erudition’ of biography….”

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