Thursday, May 25, 2017

Recently Read: Confidence, by Henry James

Henry James' 1879 Confidence is considered to be the least of his novels. I find all of James entertaining, though, and often frustrating in equal measure. The measure is equal here, in a story of romantic entanglements between a coterie of lackadaisical European travelers.

As always, the fun (and what profundity is present) is all in the sparring, probing conversations and debates, as each character attempts to know the others' intentions, goals and hearts. The attempt to use words to bring other's true thoughts to the surface is a complex and endlessly satisfying game in James. In Confidence, it's used at times almost farcically.

Where Confidence fails is in its predictabilities and unbelievable coincidences. When our protagonist, Bernard, meets the beautiful and mysterious Angela in Tuscany, the event is quickly over. When Barnard's best friend, Gordon, later asks him to come to Germany to give his appraisal of Gordon's girlfriend, the reader intuitively tells him or her self: don't let it be Angela; that's too much of a coincidence. Worse coincidences, more unbelievable, await. The story, which ends in an uncharacteristic manner for James, does at least feature a strong and smart woman, stronger and smarter, in fact, than the layabout, clueless, and rather uninteresting males surrounding her.

Pin It

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Pictures from the Edith Head and Company: Costumes and Jewelry, 1924-2015 Exhibit at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio in Lancaster

Pin It