Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
14 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Short sharp Henry James shocker.20 juin 2001
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Such is his facility with the essentials of theatre - concentrated narrative action; lengthy, dramatic scenes of dialogue; vivid characterisation; pointed use of interior space, exits and entrances, and the revealing image - you wonder why James failed as a playwright. Of course, there is a defining element of James' art that is impossible in the theatre - narration. The nameless narrator of 'The Aspern Papers' is one of the greatest monsters in James' teeming gallery of inglorious masculinity - the editor of a revered American literary poet, who tries to wheedle important documents from a celebrated lover, the now-decrepit Juliana, by installing himself as a lodger, and flattering her aging spinster niece. Like most James heroes, who treat life like a selfish game, he has no idea what emotional havoc he is wreaking on the woman. The tale has all the drive and tantalising delay of a crime story - the hero is both detective and criminal, and the suspenseful climax suggests what a great genre writer James could have been. As with Stendhal, just as exciting are the intricate, agonising dialogues between the narrator and the niece, each wildly misunderstanding the other. But if 'Aspern' is a crime story, than the the criminal is of the order of Freddie Montgomery in Banville's 'The Book of Evidence', a brilliant, charming, frighteningly amoral man, whose check of social scruples is dicarded with shocking ease. His seemingly over-detailed account is full of gaps, self-defence, self-pity, evasion, vagueness, misremembering, disarming honesty and wild misinterpreations of others' characters and motives. He is a man who can't see beyond his own narrow goal, behind whom we always sense an unseen, all-seeing eye. He is the forerunner to a second modern anti-hero, 'Pale Fire''s Charles Kinbote, another literary editor whose devotion to his subject has become mad and murderous. In a Victorian age full of cant about the ennobling power of art, James asserts, disturbingly, the opposite - repeated exposure to sublime poetry (and the book is full of ironic references to religion and glorious war) has only made the narrator emotinally dead, unable to respond to the humanity of others. This 'portrait' of an aging muse, malevolent and concupiscent is a stark warning to literary idealisers, and a sad study of human decline, but should also be seen as a reflection of the narrator's own desires. 'Aspern' is incidentally THE great Venice story, its watery decay somehow seeping through the narrator's blind egotism.
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Superbly Written and Psychologically Astute8 octobre 2005
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This story of an unnamed narrator ingratiating himself into the household of a elderly lady, once the mistress of a famous poet with whom the narrator is obsessed, and her middle-aged niece, in order to obtain papers written by the poet is superbly written and psychologically astute. As often is the case with the works of Henry James it is an exegesis on how people use other people. Often times it isn't exactly clear who is using whom more. The Aspern Papers is an excellent introduction to Henry James for those first approaching The Master's work. It is a novella, approximately 100 pages in length. The writing style is elegant and clear, unlike his style in later works like "The Wings of the Dove" and "The Golden Bowl" which tend to be convoluted and vague.
8 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Nice intro to James' style28 mars 2001
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Henry James, The Aspern Papers (Laurel, 1888)
One of James' shortest novels, and one of his least-known, The Aspern Papers is a (supposedly based on a true) story about a young biographer of famed poet Jeffrey Aspern (based, depending on to whom you talk, on either Browning or Keats) who contrives to get his hands on the love letters Aspern wrote to a mistress by presenting himself at the now-ancient mistress' Italian villa and passing himself off as a wealthy traveller and author looking for lodging. The mistress lives with her spinster niece, whose age is never given (one assumes mid-forties, a few years older than the narrator), and the two are impoverished. Things go as planned until the narrator finds himself starting to like the niece a bit more than he bargained for.
The novel runs a bit over a hundred pages, which makes it an excellent introduction to James' extremely dry wit; it's much lighter-weight than the ponderous tomes he's known for. The prose here has an agility which is absent from works such as The Bostonians or The Wings of the Dove, but still manages to convey emotion quite well with only a few words and a gesture. The novel's last pages are a triumph of minimal writing, and probably deserve closer scrutiny than the works of James' that are normally assinged in English classes around the globe.
Oddly, the one major failing of this novel is that James abandons the minimalism every once in a while, and his characters go overboard with hysterical crying and the like so common to Victorian literature. In a book that's otherwise so controlled, these episodes-- never longer than a few sentences-- seem absurd more than anything; perfectly composed people suddenly collapse into tears as if shot with pepper spray, and then within the space of a paragraph are back to their cool, collected selves once again. These intrusions are minimal, and while they detract from the scenes in which they're placed, the novel overall is still a worthy one. If you've been turned off by James through exposure to one of those million-page drawing room comedies, you may want to give him another try with this. *** 1/2
6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
an excellent introduction to Henry James and his style18 août 2001
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"The Aspern papers" is a surprisingly short, sexy and suspenseful novel. It will completely change your opinion of Henry James; he shows himself to be an master of suspense and well played out drama instead of the ambiguous pussyfooting plodder that most people think him to be. There is a definite touch of evil in this novella. It takes place in a stuffy interior world dominated by an old sinister woman in a green shade. The narrator's intentions are quite amoral and evil. The narration is deftly created through sure touches of insecurity and self pity. The trick of the unreliable narrator is used to great effect. And at no point does it seem anything other than a seamless and effective method of narration.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
I would do anything for that, but I won't do love...2 août 2011
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Or maybe I change my mind? (Thanks and apologies to Meatloaf for providing me the ideal title for my review, even if I had to do some violence to it!)
Graham Greene had the habit of calling some of his fiction `entertainments'. I read somewhere, recently, that he did not see himself in the same league as Conrad and Henry James, whom he considered first grade novelists, which he was not. I agree with Greene's self-assessment, but it made me think about James. I find that I prefer James's long stories over his novels. I also find James much more amusing than I expected from his reputation. (I will re-read Greene to update my opinion on him.)
Look at James' brilliant 100 page novella The Aspern Papers: what a witty, elegant, and even suspenseful piece of fiction! And it is pure entertainment. Don't expect any pretensions for higher or deeper meanings. The narrator is a weasel of a man, who targets 2 ladies living alone in an obscure run-down palacio in Venice, for some kind of literary heist. He is the editor of a deceased poetry superstar, Jeffrey Aspern. Improbably, the nameless narrator and his co-editor have found a living witness to the great man: a woman who had an affair of an unclear kind with the star, when she was 20, in 1820. All that the 2 men know about it are vague speculations based on lines in Aspern's poetry. The editors presume that the now old lady must have letters and maybe even poetry manuscripts. One of them had asked her in writing and caught an outright refusal: she had nothing and would not share it anyway. And she wanted to be left alone. The other one, the narrator, is now trying a different approach: he manages to enter the palacio as a lodger, pretending to need a place with a garden during the summer. He is willing to pay outrageous prices for rent. He tries to enter the lady's confidence. After a long waiting period he manages to get closer to the old lady's niece, also not young any more.... The suspense comes from 2 angles: will the weasel make it? One rather wishes not. And: what will we learn about the old lady's past? What kind of affair did she have with the great man? What papers does she actually have? An example of James' nicely twisted language. Talking about his man servant, the narrator says this: `I was conscious he had fantastic private theories about me which he thought fine and which I, had I known them, should have thought offensive.' Can it get any better? An entertainment of the best sort.