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The Sacred Fount

Henry James

Book Overview: 

The Sacred Fount delves into the interior observations and obsessions of one Englishman during a weekend gathering in the country. Regarding himself as a master of human psychology, the narrator watches the goings-on of the other guests and weaves theories about the interpersonal implications of what he witnesses, leaving the not infrequently perplexed reader the task of sorting out whether his conclusions are facts or fancies.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .should look on the principle suggested to him by the case of the Brissendens, there would be no danger at all of his finding it. If accordingly, I was nervous for Mrs. Server, all I had to do was to keep him on this false scent. Since it was not she who was paid for, but she who possibly paid, his fancy might harmlessly divert him till the party should disperse. At the same time, in the midst of these reflections, the question of the "change" in her, which he was in so much better a position than I to measure, couldn't help having for me its portent, and the sense of that was, no doubt, in my next words. "What makes you think that what you speak of was what I had in my head?"

"Well, the way, simply, that the shoe fits. She's absolutely not the same person I painted. It's exactly like Mrs. Brissenden's having been for you yesterday not the same person you had last seen bearing her name."

"Very good," I returned, "though I didn't in the least mean to set . . . Read More

Community Reviews

The narrator's extravagant theorizing--let's be honest--initially had me going for the Advil, but the last three furious chapters redeemed all the head pain. Damn.

Reading The Sacred Fount is a lot of work but a worthwhile endeavor for the veteran James reader. The short novel stands out among James' work for its use of a first-person narrator (this is unique among James' novels) and, loosely, the structure and lingo of a detective story. James' narrator go...more

I'm not sure whether I was supposed to find this book funny and delightful or not, but I did. The plot of the novel is a bit hard to figure. Its narrator is a leisured society man who notices some unexpected changes in a few of the guests on a weekend social engagement: a dull, middle-aged bachel...more

A cent'anni dalla morte di Henry James (morì nel 1916), nel 2016 Neri Pozza riedita questo romanzo.
Ritorno a leggere James dopo molto tempo e quello che provo è una sensazione di straniamento, come se non fossi riuscita a capirlo fino in fondo.
La fonte sacra gioca sul non detto, sulle illazioni...more

This turn-of-the-century novel by James is a surprising throwback to the kind of story he is best known for today: an ambiguous tale told by an unreliable narrator a la _The Turn of the Screw_. The basic idea, that couples come more and more to resemble each other the longer they are associated,...more

I really love Henry James’s short stories and novellas, but I seem to read all the wrong Henry James novels. The Ambassadors and The Wings of the Dove I have never managed to finish. The Sacred Fount is shorter and therefore easier, but I consider it almost unreadable. The claustrophobic narrativ...more

Гипнотически-бессмысленная книга, прототип нового романа, прозы Гертруды Стайн, фильмов "В прошлом году в Мариенбаде" и "Персона", жанра мистического детектива и многого другого. Чем решительнее она настаивает на том, чтобы быть ни о чем, тем увлекательнее ее читать.

This is not James's best, but the idea behind it is fascinating. I read this a few years ago in a Modernist literature class for grad school; I was the only person who liked it, which I guess is owing to the fact that everyone else was obsessed with Fitzgerald and Faulkner.

I enjoyed his language...more

The key to "The Sacred Fount" is to remember that Henry James loved a good ghost story. An unreliable-seeming narrator describing a supernatural occurrence that, in the end, nobody else has actually seen, with a rather ambiguous conclusion, is much more "The Turn of the Screw" then, say, "What Ma...more

This is such an odd novel! It kind of reminds me of gossip queens at a high school lunch table (forgive me, H. James). But in all seriousness, much of the book, rather the whole premise of the book revolves around one man's obsession with who's coupled up with whom. I find merit in the main chara...more

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