“The Middle Years” Common Place

Doctor Hugh was an ardent physiologist, saturated with the spirit of the age–in other words he had just taken his degree; but he was independent and various, he talked like a man who would have preferred to love literature best.

Henry James, “The Middle Years.” Henry James: Complete Stories 1892-1898, ed. John Hollander and David Bromwich (New York: The Library of America, 1996), 342.

Interesting word choice “saturated with the spirit of age”, age is not usually associated with spirit/liveliness. Clarification in next part of sentence conveys he is young, “just taken his degree”. Long sentence, with dash and semicolon, all explaining Doctor Hugh’s character. “Preferred to love literature best” interesting and confusing characterization– enthusiasm and wistfulness? He likes the idea of literature more than he actually likes literature?