THE ASPERN PAPERS BY HENRY JAMES (BOOK REVIEW AND RECOMMENDATION)
Hello readers! Today I'll review The Aspern Papers by Henry James. Published in 1888, this novella is a lovely classic that stood the test of time. A perfect choice if you're short on time but would like to get introduced to Henry James or just enjoy some of his writing. I'm no stranger to this author myself. I've read many works by him. I even reviewed Henry James on my blog quite a few times here ( Four Meetings) here (The Portrait of a Lady), here (Washington Square). I might even do a special post about him on this little place to call my own ( sharing with you all of Henry James' works that I have read so far) but today I'll just focus on this beautifully melancholic novella set in Venice. If I recall well, I borrowed this particular book from a library some time ago. I do like to read books in physical form if possible, but if you prefer online reading, you can find a free version of this classic on wikisource and other sites. This novella consists of nine chapters (links bellow) and is quite a quick read (so it's perfect if you're short on time).
THE ASPERN PAPERS, A NOVELLA BY HENRY JAMES
The Aspern Papers is a little gem of a book. Its plot is simple enough to grasp (especially at the beginning). An unnamed narrator sets to Venice, to find a woman who possibly still has love letters from a famous writer. The unnamed narrator is after those private letters and he feels justified in his quest- for he does it for the love of literature. However, where does the literature end and the private life begins? Does adoration of a certain artist gives us permission to meddle with their private matters? However, one can ask what is really private in art. After all, all artists (one way or another) reveal their private self in their art. If writers reveal their private self in their writing, is it alright to read their private correspondence? This is a fascinating question. I myself felt a bit odd reading published letters by some famous writers. I was happy that I got to read them, but I was also somewhat conflicted because they were often private (even if the writers in questions were long gone). Moreover, it is said that this novella was actually based on search for love letters left over by a famous poet.
Now, I'm pretty sure I had actually read this novella before I knew about the plot being based on the letters Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote to Mary Shelley's (his wife's!) stepsister, Claire. Miss Claire Clairmont kept them until she died and so did (it seems) the lady this novella introduces us with. Whether this fictional lover will be willing to share them is altogether another matter! I don't think I would have read this novella differently if I had known what 'papers' were inspiration behind it but I was glad to learn of it eventually. One can certainly see how, for example, someone devoted to Shelley's poetry would go to great length to acquire letters written by him. As a literature lovel, I found it easy to sympathize with the narrator.
Henry James opens this lovely novella with following words, immediately inviting us (as readers) to find ourselves in the midst of things in Venice: I had taken Mrs. Prest into my confidence; in truth without her I should have made but little advance, for the fruitful idea in the whole business dropped from her friendly lips. It was she who invented the short cut, who severed the Gordian knot. It is not supposed to be the nature of women to rise as a general thing to the largest and most liberal view—I mean of a practical scheme; but it has struck me that they sometimes throw off a bold conception—such as a man would not have risen to—with singular serenity. 'Simply ask them to take you in on the footing of a lodger'—I don't think that unaided I should have risen to that. I was beating about the bush, trying to be ingenious, wondering by what combination of arts I might become an acquaintance, when she offered this happy suggestion that the way to become an acquaintance was first to become an inmate. Her actual knowledge of the Misses Bordereau was scarcely larger than mine, and indeed I had brought with me from England some definite facts which were new to her. Their name had been mixed up ages before with one of the greatest names of the century, and they lived now in Venice in obscurity, on very small means, unvisited, unapproachable, in a dilapidated old palace on an out-of-the-way canal: this was the substance of my friend's impression of them.
|LOCATION: MOSTAR, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA|
|(SUSTAINABLE)OUTFIT DETAILS, HOW I WORE IT BEFORE? THE BLACK COAT, THE LILAC DRESS, THE LONG PRINTED LIGHT CARDI, THE HEELED BOOTS, THE BEIGE BAG|