“The Middle Years” Commonplace – LM

“‘Why, it has come to pass–it has come to pass! The second chance has been the public’s–the chance to find the point of view, to pick up the pearl!”

“‘Oh, the pearl!’ Dencombe uneasily sighed. A smile as cold as a winter sunset flickered on his drawn lips as he added: ‘The pearl is the unwritten–the pearl is the unalloyed, the rest, the lost!'”

Henry James, “The Middle Years.” Henry James: Complete Stories 1892-1898, ed. John Hollander and David Bromwich (New York: The Library of America, 1996), 353.

I really enjoyed this interaction between Doctor Hugh and Dencombe. The first spoken dialogue comes from Doctor Hugh, who argues that the second chance Dencombe yearns for exists within his work. It’s the reader who discovers the beauty in his work. Dencombe, however, feels that because he never wrote the story in his exact perfect vision, it can never truly be discovered. It’s an interesting conversation between an artist and his audience. It calls to mind the relationship artists have with their work, and how future generations come to appreciate the works that do exist.