Sunday, May 4, 2014

Henry James on the Steel Pen

Henry James has one of his characters in The Portrait of a Lady compare one of his wife's "intimates" with a "new steel pen":
"Miss Stackpole, however, is your most wonderful invention. She strikes me as a kind of monster. One hasn’t a nerve in one’s body that she doesn’t set quivering. You know I never have admitted that she’s a woman. Do you know what she reminds me of? Of a new steel pen – the most odious thing in nature. She talks as a steel pen writes; aren’t her letters, by the way, on ruled paper? She thinks and moves and walks and looks exactly as she talks. You may say that she doesn’t hurt me inasmuch as I don’t see her. I don’t see her, but I hear her, I hear her all day long. Her voice is in my ears, I can’t get rid of it."
She is not the only one he finds distasteful, and he wants his wife to "make a new collection."[1]


1. I am grateful to Palimpsest for calling my attention to this passage. There is another passage on the steel pen on the blog See here. Compare with the previous post on Kierkegaard on Steel Nibs.

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