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The Altar of the Dead

Henry James

Book Overview: 

A fable of literally life and death significance, the story explores how the protagonist tries to keep the remembrance of his dead friends, to save them from being forgotten entirely in the rush of everyday events. He meets a woman who shares his ideals, only to find that the past places what seems to be an impassable barrier between them. Although James was not religious in any conventional sense, the story shows a deep spirituality in its treatment of mortality and the transcendent power of unselfish love.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .To-day it all seemed to have occurred merely to the end that George Stransom should think of him as “Hague” and measure exactly how much he himself could resemble a stone.  He went cold, suddenly and horribly cold, to bed.

CHAPTER III.

The next day, in the afternoon, in the great grey suburb, he knew his long walk had tired him.  In the dreadful cemetery alone he had been on his feet an hour.  Instinctively, coming back, they had taken him a devious course, and it was a desert in which no circling cabman hovered over possible prey.  He paused on a corner and measured the dreariness; then he made out through the gathered dusk that he was in one of those tracts of London which are less gloomy by night than by day, because, in the former case of the civil gift of light.  By day there was nothing, but by night there were lamps, and George Stransom was in a mood that made lamps good in themselves.  It wasn’t that they could show him any. . . Read More

Community Reviews

إنها رواية قصيرة لكنها إختزلت في طياتها معان جديرة بفهم نمط الحياتين حياة بائدة ( ما قبل الموت) وحياة سائدة (ما بعد الموت) ..تشعر وكأن "هنري جيمس " يوقظك لعالم الأموات فهو مجازياً يحييهم نحو الصحو ويبيد من منطقك فكرة العدم .....تلك الشموع التي يوقدها لتخليد ذكراهم وتلك الصدفة المارقة مع إمرأة يتف...more

رواية قصيرة عن رجل أقام مذبحا يشعل فيه شموعا لموتاه، لذكراهم. إنها تحكي عن الرابط الذي يظل يشد الموتى بالأحياء، وعن حضور الموت وتمدده مع كل شمعة، وعن سطوة الموتى وقدرتهم على تدمير سكينة المرء، وعن الغفران الذي لا يستطيع حتى الموت جعله يسيرا.

أنها علامةٌ فارقة على جبين الموتى ، اولئك القابعين في أقاصي الذاكرة . المنسيين .
هذه المرثية الحقيقية لليتامى ولأصحاب الهوية المجهولة .
للمعذبين الذين ولدوا هنا دون أدنى رغبة في الوجود ، وداهمهم الموت على حين غفلة .
همّشتهم الحياة وهشّمهم الموت .
الناس تعيش للناس . لأطفالهم وذويهم وأقرانهم وآحفاده...more

مذبح الموتى - هنري جيمس .

هذه رواية استثنائية عن تمجيد الذكريات، وعن ما يفعله الراحلون بحياة من بقى. كتبها هنري جيمس بعد موت أخته بمرض السرطان وإنتحار حبيبته، والموت يحاصره من كل إتجاه.
حفلة للموتى بقائمة تزيد الأسماء فيها كل يوم وشموعٌ تضاءُ في كنيسة مبهمة لإنقاذهم.

pagina trentotto

Tutto questo faceva del loro rapporto qualcosa di così impersonale che le regole o i motivi che la gente trovava nelle ordinarie amicizie ne erano esclusi: loro non davano peso alle cose che venivano normalmente ritenute necessarie nei commerci del mondo. Un giorno (non seppero ma...more

It's been years since I have read Henry James, and I probably should re-read those three works (but Portrait of a Lady is huge). I want to read "Washington Square", "The Ambassadors", "What Maisie Knew", etc. So I thought I would start with The Altar of the Dead, a short story. This story was a b...more

Quell’essenza, quell’assenza

E' sufficiente il risvolto di copertina
«A poco a poco egli aveva preso l’abitudine di soffermarsi sui suoi morti ad uno ad uno, e piuttosto presto nella vita aveva cominciato a pensare che andasse fatto qualcosa per loro. E loro erano lì, accanto a lui, forti di quell’...more

Henry James—who wrote not only novels of genius but also some very fine ghost stories—is known as the author of The Turn of the Screw, the most ambiguous ghostly tale ever written: so subtle, so evanescent that the reader can never be sure whether it actually contains a ghost, or not. But I think...more

By dint of Rebecca West’s rare and positive recommendation, I picked up this story despite its lugubrious title. This is a story entirely of interiority, of human mystery, of forgiveness and charity.

I can not remember another story as compelling as this one to remind us to put down our strident...more

This review contains spoilers.

This excellent short story by James is not as morbid as the title suggests. The story is a reflection of how we, the living, remember and honor our departed friends and loved ones.

George Stransom, the protagonist, builds an altar in a church with a lighted candle for...more

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