Thursday, January 13, 2011

Henry James anticipating Saussure and much of twentieth century literary theory:

'What's language at all but a convention?' said Isabel. 'She has the good taste not to pretend, like some people I've met, to express herself by original signs.'

- Portrait of a Lady

3 comments:

Annie said...

It's a sign that I have neglected James for too long that I can't remember of whom Isabel is speaking. I must try and put that right this year. I've never got round to either 'The Bostonians' or 'The Europeans'. Would you recommend either/or?

Shelf of One's Own said...

I don't have the book with me, but I'm going to take a stab in the dark and say that I think it's Isabel talking to her aunt Mrs Touchett about Madame Merle. I'm sad to say I've never read "The Bostonians" but "The Europeans" were only so-so. I'd go for "Maisie" and "Wings of a Dove". Hard to beat the "Portrait" though (in my books); it's tops!

Annie said...

Thanks, "Maisie" and "Wings of a Dove" are both novels I've yet to read, so I'll put them at the top of the list.