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Sir Dominick Ferrand

Sir Dominick Ferrand by Henry James
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“Levity” is not a word often applied to Henry James, but this story has about it an attractively lighthearted quality. It tells of Peter Baron, a poor, young struggling writer of adequate, if not transcendent, talent, who lives in a dreary London boarding house inhabited also by a mysteriously clairvoyant and beautiful young widow, with her small boy. When Baron buys himself a second-hand writing desk to stimulate the creative juices, he finds carefully hidden within it a cache of letters that appear to compromise a recently deceased statesman. The discovery and his struggle to handle the questions they pose ultimately change his life. Along the way he also discovers, as a fringe benefit, a talent for what Americans (though probably not Jamesians) call Tin Pan Alley.

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This etext was scanned by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk, from the 1893 Macmillan and Co. edition. Proofing was by Nina Hall, Mohua Sen, Bridie, Francine Smith and David.

Sir Dominick Ferrand

by Henry James

"There are several objections to it, but I'll take it if you'll alter it," Mr. Locket's rather curt note had said; and there was no waste of words in the postscript in which he had added: "If you'll come in and see me, I'll show you what I mean." This communication had reached Jersey Villas by the first post, and Peter Baron had scarcely swallowed his leathery muffin before he got into motion to obey the editorial behest. He knew that such precipitation looked eager, and he had no desire to look eager it was not in his interest; but how could he maintain a godlike calm, principled though he was in favour of it, the first time one of the great magazines had accepted, even with a cruel reservation, a specimen of his ardent young genius?

It was not till, like a child with a sea shell at his ear, he began to be aware of the great roar of the "underground," that, in his third class carriage, the cruelty of the reservation penetrated, with the taste of acrid smoke, to his inner sense... Continue reading book >>


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