Quotations by James, Henry


In the long run an opinion often borrows credit from the forbearance of its patrons.

Henry James (1843-1916) American writer
“Essays in Criticism by Matthew Arnold,” North American Review (Jul 1865)
Added on 30-Apr-12 | Last updated 30-Apr-12
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A tradition is kept alive only by something being added to it.

Henry James (1843-1916) American writer
“Robert Louis Stevenson,” Century Magazine (April 1888)
Added on 4-Jun-12 | Last updated 4-Jun-12
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The only obligation to which in advance we may hold a novel without incurring the accusation of being arbitrary, is that it be interesting.

Henry James (1843-1916) American writer
“The Art of Fiction,” Longman’s Magazine (4 Sep 1884)
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Added on 25-Jun-12 | Last updated 21-Jun-12
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The advantage, the luxury, as well as the torment and responsibility of the novelist, is that there is no limit to what he may attempt as an executant — no limit to his possible experiments, efforts, discoveries, successes.

Henry James (1843-1916) American writer
“The Art of Fiction,” Longman’s Magazine (4 Sep 1884)
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Added on 2-Jul-12 | Last updated 29-Jun-12
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What is character but the determination of incident? What is incident but the illustration of character?

Henry James (1843-1916) American writer
“The Art of Fiction,” Longman’s Magazine (4 Sep 1884)
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Added on 9-Jul-12 | Last updated 29-Jun-12
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It is, I think, an indisputable fact that Americans are, as Americans, the most self-conscious people in the world, and the most addicted to the belief that the other nations of the earth are in a conspiracy to undervalue them.

Henry James (1843-1916) American writer
Hawthorne, ch. 6 “England and Italy” (1879)

Added on 7-May-12 | Last updated 7-May-12
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Live all you can — it’s a mistake not to. It doesn’t so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have your life. If you haven’t had that, what have you had?… What one loses one loses; make no mistake about that…The right time is any time that one is still so lucky as to have…. Live!

Henry James (1843-1916) American writer
The Ambassadors, Book 5, ch. 2 (1903)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Jan-12
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People talk about the conscience, but it seems to me one must just bring it up to a certain point and leave it there. You can let your conscience alone if you’re nice to the second housemaid.

Henry James (1843-1916) American writer
The Awkward Age, Book 6, ch. 3 [Mrs. Brookenham] (1899)
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Added on 11-Jun-12 | Last updated 15-Jun-12
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The real offence, as she ultimately perceived, was her having a mind of her own at all. Her mind was to be his — attached to his own like a small garden-plot to a deer-park.

Henry James (1843-1916) American writer
The Portrait of a Lady, ch. 42 (1881)
Added on 21-May-12 | Last updated 21-May-12
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Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.

Henry James (1843-1916) American writer
Comment to Willie James (nephew) (1902)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Jan-12
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It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance, for our consideration and application of these things, and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process.

Henry James (1843-1916) American writer
Letter to H.G. Wells (10 July 1915)
Added on 18-Jun-12 | Last updated 18-Jun-12
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I think I don’t regret a single “excess” of my responsive youth — I only regret, in my chilled age, certain occasions and possibilities I didn’t embrace.

Henry James (1843-1916) American writer
Letter to Hugh Walpole (21 Aug 1913)
Added on 1-Sep-14 | Last updated 1-Sep-14
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More quotes by James, Henry