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The Figure in the Carpet

Henry James

Book Overview: 

The story ostensibly concerns a young literary critic who greatly admires the writer Hugh Vereker. A meeting with Vereker, however, shows him that he — and all other critics — have in fact missed the great point of Vereker’s work, and the critic (and his editor) thereupon devote themselves to trying to unravel the mystery. James’s story, however, almost certainly has an autobiographical side to it, perhaps itself criticizing those critics who couldn’t see, or wouldn’t see, the figures lost in the carpet of his own writing.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Lady Jane of a triumph.  I was just reflecting in truth that this interminable board would deprive me of one when the guest next me, dear woman—she was Miss Poyle, the vicar’s sister, a robust unmodulated person—had the happy inspiration and the unusual courage to address herself across it to Vereker, who was opposite, but not directly, so that when he replied they were both leaning forward.  She enquired, artless body, what he thought of Lady Jane’s “panegyric,” which she had read—not connecting it however with her right-hand neighbour; and while I strained my ear for his reply I heard him, to my stupefaction, call back gaily, his mouth full of bread: “Oh, it’s all right—the usual twaddle!”

I had caught Vereker’s glance as he spoke, but Miss Poyle’s surprise was a fortunate cover for my own.  “You mean he doesn’t do you justice?” said the excellent wom. . . Read More

Community Reviews

"Recenzia mea ieftina s-a topit in spatiu si cele mai bune lucruri pe care le spusesem in ea au devenit destul de plate in fata stralucirii prezentei lui." Cam asa simt si eu cand trebuie sa scriu despre Henry James.
In acest mini-roman autorul abordeaza relatia dintre scriitor, critic literar, fan,

"One fine ignorance is as good as another."
- Henry James, The Figure in the Carpet

Vol N° 49 of my Penguin Little Black Classics Box Set. This volume contains James's masterful short story "The Figure in the Carpet" published in 1896.

I could tell you what it all means, but I've spent my life trying

This Henry James short story published in 1896 is a lustrous, clear Tahitian pearl for those of us here on Goodreads since the first-person narrator is a young book reviewer who becomes obsessed with both Hugh Vereker, a much celebrated novelist, and also Vereker’s novels. It all started when our na

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