“Only to-day, at last, had he begun to see, so that what he had hitherto done was a movement without direction. He had ripened too late and was so clumsily constituted that he had to teach himself by mistakes.”
Henry James, “The Middle Years.” Henry James: Complete Stories 1892-1898, ed John Hollander and David Bromwich (New York: The Library of America, 1996) 347
Mr. Dencombe figuratively and literally sees the youthfulness in Doctor Hugh, which only furthers Dencombe’s anxieties and regrets about being ill. Dencombe feels unaccomplished, despite Hugh’s assertion that “The Middle Years” is a fantastic work of art. Will Dencombe ever be satisfied? Or will the notion of aging and life moving to a standstill always remind one of how much more they wanted to accomplish? Is it because Dencombe is unable to observe himself from an external, non-biased point of view? Would any feelings of his change if he could view himself externally?