Frank McLynn

Worth Investigation

Travelling in Italy with Henry James

By

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Edith Wharton tells a story about Henry James, who once managed to get lost on the Kings Road, Chelsea. In desperation he accosted a local and proceeded to treat him to the usual orotundity and prolixity of the Jamesian period, replete with many an ‘in short’ – the inevitable prelude with James to a fresh series of circumlocutions and periphrases. Having eventually fathomed that James was enquiring where the Kings Road was, the local pulled him up short with a curt: ‘Ye’re in it.’

With this sort of track record, James was clearly no pathfinding Stanley or ground-breaking Younghusband. Yet when he could rely on others to see to the details of his travel arrangements, he was an enthusiastic rover of the art trails of Europe.

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