The Summarize-Henry-James Competition

by Michael Potemra

It’s an eternally recurring topic, simply because it’s such great fun: Great Writers Whom One Doesn’t Like to Read. T. S. Eliot’s line that “[Henry James] had a mind so fine that no idea could violate it” has been used by many to explain why they dislike James; but Eliot apparently intended that line as a compliment. So, as a public service to all Americans who are up late at night trying to put into words why they dislike Henry James, I offer the following — a quote within a quote in Saul Bellow’s Humboldt’s Gift that I somehow don’t remember from the first time I read that book: “‘Good old Henry James, of whom Mrs. Henry Adams said that he chewed more than he bit off . . .’”

The Corner

The one and only.