"Tant qu'il y aura un sujet à traiter, il dépendra entièrement du traitement de rallumer la flamme. Seulement, l'officiant doit vraiment approcher l'autel ;"
Henry James : L'avenir du roman, 1899 (in Henry James : La situation littéraire actuelle en France, Seuil)
"Le dénouement inconclusif du Portrait de femme et le caractère floconneux de l'avenir d'Isabelle". "Pour James, la vie n'était pas forcément logique et il n'aurait sûrement pas souscrit à l'idée sartrienne que les êtres se confondent avec leurs actes".
Mona Ozouf, La muse démocratique - Henry James ou les pouvoirs du roman. Editions Calmann-Lévy
'One is never set at rest by Mr. Henry James's novels. His books end as an episode in life ends. You remain with the sense of the life still going on'. - Joseph Conrad
"Personne n'est jamais laissé en repos par les romans de M. Henry James. Ses livres se terminent comme se termine un épisode de la vie. Vous restez avec la sensation que la vie avance encore."
'The obvious criticism of course will be that it is not finished — that I have not seen the heroine to the end of her situation — that I have left her en l'air.— This is both true and false. The whole of anything is never told; you can only take what groups together. What I have done has that unity — it groups together. It is complete in itself — and the rest may be taken up or not, later'.
The Notebooks Of Henry James - The Portrait of a Lady
'Really, universally, relations stop nowhere, and the exquisite problem of the artist is eternally but to draw, by a geometry of his own, the circle within which they shall happily appear to do so. He is in the perpetual predicament that the continuity of things is the whole matter, for him, of comedy and tragedy; that this continuity is never, by the space of an instant or an inch, broken, and that, to do anything at all, he has at once intensely to consult and intensely to ignore it'.
Henry James, Roderick Hudson, PREFACE
The Portrait of a Lady
Jane Campion / Henry James
'The house of fiction has in short not one window, but a million--a number of possible windows not to be reckoned, rather; every one of which has been pierced, or is still pierceable, in its vast front, by the need of the individual vision and by the pressure of the individual will. These apertures, of dissimilar shape and size, hang so, all together, over the human scene that we might have expected of them a greater sameness of report than we find. They are but windows at the best, mere holes in a dead wall, disconnected, perched aloft; they are not hinged doors opening straight upon life. But they have this mark of their own that at each of them stands a figure with a pair of eyes, or at least with a field-glass, which forms, again and again, for observation, a unique instrument, insuring to the person making use of it an impression distinct from every other. He and his neighbours are watching the same show, but one seeing more where the other sees less, one seeing black where the other sees white, one seeing big where the other sees small, one seeing coarse where the other sees fine. And so on, and so on; there is fortunately no saying on what, for the particular pair of eyes, the window may NOT open; " fortunately" by reason, precisely, of this incalculability of range. The spreading field, the human scene, is the "choice of subject"; the pierced aperture, either broad or balconied or slit-like and low-browed, is the "literary form"; but they are, singly or together, as nothing without the posted presence of the watcher--without, in other words, the consciousness of the artist. Tell me what the artist is, and I will tell you of what he has BEEN conscious. Thereby I shall express to you at once his boundless freedom and his "moral" reference'.
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, 1908 New York Edition, Preface