By Henry James
En esta edición se reúnen dos volúmenes de cuentos y nouvelles de Henry James tal como se publicaron en vida de su autor: Una vida en Londres y otros relatos (1889) y Lo más selecto (1903). Ambos volúmenes pertenecen a l. a. etapa de madurez de su autor: se trata, pues, de una muestra representativa, fiel a su concepción unique, y prácticamente inédita −sólo dos de los trece relatos incluidos habían aparecido antes en España−, del James más exquisito y profundo, el de l. a. época, por un lado, de Los papeles de Aspern y La lección del maestro y, por otro, de Los embajadores.
«No es culpa mía −dice uno de los narradores de esta selección− si estoy hecho de tal manera que con frecuencia encuentro más vida en situaciones oscuras y sujetas a interpretación que en el grosero barullo del primer plano.» Personalidades oscuras −y muchas veces sin recursos− constituyen de hecho el cuadro basic de estas narraciones; sin embargo, su carácter no impide que sean delicadas, críticas, artísticas, a veces suicidas figuras de los angeles verdad (de los angeles libertad incluso) que, por obra de los angeles más intensa observación y del más mágico estilo, arrebatan a cualquier héroe o heroína convencional los angeles dignidad del protagonismo. Como cube uno de los personajes: «No tenemos posición social, pero no nos importa, ¿verdad?; eso es porque conocemos los angeles diferencia entre las realidades y las farsas».
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Additional info for Lo más selecto
In “Ghostly Father, I Confess,” Meg Sargent begins by confidently mocking her analyst: his taste is vulgar, his intelligence scarcely matches hers. “She had enjoyed doing that malicious portrait,” she thinks. When he questions her about it, she says simply, “I’ve got a good eye for social types, and I’ve had a lot of practice” (253). But what she’s really doing, it turns out as the story proceeds, is resisting the reflux of her melodramatic past, the burden of a 24 Twenty-Four Ways of Looking at Mary McCarthy miserable childhood and an unhappy self that she had utterly suppressed until marriage to Wilson made her feel helpless and imprisoned.
For Mailer this adds up to her being “simply not a good enough woman to write a major novel, not yet” (138–39). The entire review is ugly, brutal, and insulting, but Mailer pays a backhanded tribute by his inability to call McCarthy a lady. About McCarthy he has to use the word “woman,” even though she is “not yet” a good enough one. A lady could never be a bitch—it takes a woman. The implicit and explicit imputations of “bitch” by Mailer and others, though not exactly a compliment to McCarthy, are surely an acknowledgment Our Leading Bitch Intellectual 33 of her singular authority, courage, and self-possession.
If he is not an intellectual, as she is, then he must somehow represent Ordinary Life, with which intellectuals are always in danger of losing touch. Leapfrogging from one fantasy to another, she sees in him what she misses in all the men she knows in New York, “the shrewd buyer’s eye, the swift brutal appraisal” (111). Of the men she had been with, she feels, In one way or another they were all of them lame ducks. The handsome ones, like her fiancé, were good-for-nothing, the reliable ones, like her husband, were peculiar-looking, the well-to-do ones were short and wore lifts in their shoes or fat with glasses, the clever ones were alcoholic or slightly homosexual, the serious ones were foreigners or else wore beards or black shirts or were desperately poor and had no table manners.
Lo más selecto by Henry James