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The Lesson of the Master

Henry James

Book Overview: 

A promising young writer meets an older man whose works have inspired him, as well as a highly intelligent and attractive young woman, at a gathering in a country house. Anxious to learn all he can from the older writer, the young man seeks his views not only about art, but also the way in which a serious artist should live. By the end of the work, he has indeed learned his lessons, albeit not quite those that he was expecting. It's not giving anything away to say that this work bears some resemblance to James's later novel, The Ambassadors, which in many ways engages the same questions.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ow him—he wants so to talk to you,” returned Miss Fancourt, who evidently had the habit of saying the things that, by her quick calculation, would give people pleasure.  Paul saw how she would always calculate on everything’s being simple between others.

“I shouldn’t have supposed he knew anything about me,” he professed.

“He does then—everything.  And if he didn’t I should be able to tell him.”

“To tell him everything?” our friend smiled.

“You talk just like the people in your book!” she answered.

“Then they must all talk alike.”

She thought a moment, not a bit disconcerted.  “Well, it must be so difficult.  Mr. St. George tells me it is—terribly.  I’ve tried too—and I find it so.  I’ve tried to write a novel.”

“Mr. St. George oughtn’t to discourage . . . Read More