Two Jewels of American Literature.


Per Theodora Bosanquet (1918, The Little Review) Henry James’s ultimate feeling about Daisy Miller  “came to be like that of some grande dame possessing a jewel-case richly stocked with glowing rubies and flashing diamonds, but condemned by her admirers always to appear in the single string of moonstones worn at her first dance”.

(Cited by William T. Stafford in his “Introduction” to James’s Daisy Miller, Scribner, 1963, p. 3).


“It has been by a celebrated person [Edna St. Vincent Millay, Wilson’s lover at that time] that to meet F. Scott Fitzgerald is to think of a stupid old woman with whom someone has left a diamond; she is extremely proud of the diamond and shows it to everyone who comes by, and everyone is surprised that such an ignorant old woman should possess so valuable a jewel; for in nothing does she appear so stupid as in the remarks she makes about the diamond”.


Edmund Wilson, “Fitzgerald Before The Great Gatsby“, in F. Scott Fitzgerald, ed. Alfred Kazin,  World Publishing Co., 1951, p. 77 (also in The Shores of Light, 1952).

Published in: on October 18, 2016 at 7:42 pm  Comments (1)  

Tom Sawyer was a rentier, but Huckleberry refused that

Tom Sawyer was a rentier (see below), and he required applicants to his robber gang prove their respectability. Everything he was involved in was just a frat boy prank. Huck played Tom’s game for awhile, and could have been a rentier too if he’d wanted to, but at the end of the book (after 100 pages of Tom’s clownish romanticism) is making plans to run away from all that.

Now the way that the book winds up is this: Tom and me found the money that the robbers hid in the cave, and it made us rich. We got six thousand dollars apiece — all gold. It was an awful sight of money when it was piled up. Well, Judge Thatcher he took it and put it out at interest, and it fetched us a dollar a day apiece all the year round — more than a body could tell what to do with.

The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn’t stand it no longer I lit out. I got into my old rags and my sugar-hogshead again, and was free and satisfied. But Tom Sawyer he hunted me up and said he was going to start a band of robbers, and I might join if I would go back to the widow and be respectable. So I went back.


But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.

Published in: on October 6, 2016 at 6:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

My Contribution to the upcoming “This Side of Paradise” Centenary.

Chapter II: 6

My name is Amory Blaine. You don’t know about me unless you just read a book by the name of This Side of Paradise that I just wrote. There is things that I stretched, but I told the truth, mainly. People say things against the book, but at this point it wouldn’t be realistic to have a guy like Amory Blaine writing a smooth book. That comes later. And anyway, I probably let some things slip out that a smoother writer would cover up, so you get that.

I, Amory Blaine, am a naturalist like Dreiser and all those guys, and and I show my characters with all their flaws, non-judgmentally. If they seem silly and artificial and fake it’s because I show the gritty reality of their lives, even though maybe they don’t look so appealing that way. I just tell the truth, and I even show you the half-baked novelist himself (me) right in the middle of his half-baked novel. (“I know myself, but that is all”. :-)).

Sometimes I wonder where my friend Edmund got the nerve to badmouth my book, given that he can barely write his way out of a paper bag, if even that. But then, I have a lot more nerve than he does, which is why I wrote a novel people will be reading a century from now and he didn’t.

Also, it’s a naturalistic novel, but its a morality play too, with a Virgin Mary (Clara) and a (succubus) Elaine and a several Eves, and if you read the book carefully you will understand how women and the devil lead us into sin.

Published in: on October 6, 2016 at 6:29 pm  Leave a Comment