What do you think?
Rate this book
528 pages, Paperback
First published September 24, 1903
the jump was but short to supreme lucidity. Light became indeed after that so intense that Strether would doubtless have but half made out, in the prodigious glare, by which of the two the issue had been in fact precipitated. It was, in their contracted quarters, as much there between them as if it had been something suddenly spilled with a crash and a splash on the floor.
"Read slowly, read all of a novel of Zola, and the book will drop from your hands; read fast, in snatches, some modern text, and it becomes opaque, inaccessible to your pleasure: you want something to happen and nothing does... the interstice of bliss, occurs in the volume of languages, in the uttering, no tin the sequence of utterances: not to devour, to gobble, but to graze, to browse scrupulously, to rediscover--"
His name on the green cover, where he had put it for Mrs. Newsome, expressed him doubtless just enough to make the world— the world as distinguished, both for more and for less, from Woollett—ask who he was. He had incurred the ridicule of having to have his explanation explained. He was Lambert Strether because he was on the cover, whereas it should have been, for anything like glory, that he was on the cover because he was Lambert Strether.
He was young too then, the gentleman up there--he was very young; young enough apparently to be amused at an elderly watcher, to be curious even to see what the elderly watcher would do on finding himself watched. There was youth in that, there was youth in the surrender to the balcony, there was youth for Strether at his moment in everything but his own business; and Chad's thus pronounced association with youth had given the next instant an extraordinary quick lift to the issue. The balcony, the distinguished front testified suddenly, for Strether's fancy, to something that was up and up; they placed the whole case materially and as by an admirable image, on a level that he found himself at the end of another moment rejoicing to think he might reach. The young man looked at him still, he looked at the young man; and the issue, by a rapid process, was that this knowledge of a perched privacy appeared to him the last of luxuries. To him too the perched privacy was open, and he saw it now but in one light--that of the only domicile, the only fireside, in the great ironic city, on which he had the shadow of a claim.
He had spoken in the tone of talk for talks sake, and yet with an obscure truth lurking in the loose folds…
Nothing could have been odder than Strether’s sense of himself as at that moment launched in something of which the sense would be quite disconnected from the sense of his past and which was literally beginning there and then. It has begun in fact already upstairs and before the dressing-glass that struck him as blocking further, so strangely, the dimness of the window of his dull bedroom; begun with a sharper survey of the elements of Appearance than he had for a long time been moved to make.
“When you presently meet her, all the same you’ll be meeting your mother’s representative – just as I shall. I feel like the outgoing ambassador,” said Strether, “doing honour to his appointed successor.”
Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to. It doesn’t so much matter what you do in particular so long as you have your life. If you haven’t had that what have you had? I’m too old – too old at any rate for what I see. What one loses one loses; make no mistake about that. Still, we have the illusion of freedom; therefore don’t, like me today, be without the memory of that illusion. I was either, at the right time, too stupid or too intelligent to have it, and now I’m a case of reaction against the mistake. Do what you like so long as you don’t make it. For it was a mistake. Live, live!
• He was burdened, poor Strether – it had better be confessed at the outset – with the oddity of a double consciousness. There was detachment in his zeal and curiosity in his indifference.
• Thanks to his constant habit of shaking the bottle in which life handed him the wine of experience, he presently found the taste of the lees rising as usual into his draught.
• “There were moments,” she explained, “when you struck me as grandly cynical; there were others when you struck me as grandly vague.”
• He was like one of the figures of the old clock at Berne. They came out, on one side, at their hour, jigged along their little course in the public eye, and went in on the other side. He too had jigged his little course – him too a modest retreat awaited.