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The Death of the Lion

Henry James

Book Overview: 

This short novel is a black comedy about fame, manipulation, pretension, and surviving it all. The narrator, a reprehensible and seedy journalist, sets out to interview a minor author, and in his own quest for glory, turns the author into the celebrity of the day. The sudden and untimely death of the author, with his latest work unfinished, presents a troubling dilemma for the narrator, which he resolves with no more conscience than he had when he began his quest.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Thank God, too, you’re not, as you were telling me yesterday, ‘successful.’  If you weren’t a failure what would be the use of trying?  That’s my one reserve on the subject of your recovery—that it makes you ‘score,’ as the newspapers say.  It looks well in the newspapers, and almost anything that does that’s horrible.  ‘We are happy to announce that Mr. Paraday, the celebrated author, is again in the enjoyment of excellent health.’  Somehow I shouldn’t like to see it.”

“You won’t see it; I’m not in the least celebrated—my obscurity protects me.  But couldn’t you bear even to see I was dying or dead?” my host enquired.

“Dead—passe encore; there’s nothing so safe.  One never knows what a living artist may do—one has mourned so many.  However, one must make the worst of it.  You must be as dead. . . Read More