Henry James’s later books are always falling into the hands of persons for whom they were not intended, and it is always a necessity of these simple natures to blame him for what they cannot understand. Probably no novelist ever lived who could stimulate an uncongenial reader to such loquacity of incomprehension. The results are generally rather sad, but the following clipping from the New York Globe sums up the whole man-in-the-street point of view briefly, conclusively, and with engaging candour:
I have read your latest story, Henry James; it contains no actions gory, Henry James; there is nothing there to shock; no man hits another’s block; all your people stand and talk, Henry James. Oh, they talk too long, I ween, Henry James; and I can’t guess what they mean, Henry James; each one anxiously conceals all emotion that he feels, each one’s head is full of wheels, Henry James. Oh, your ladies and your gents, Henry James; nothing sane have they in mind, nothing but their social grind, and they stand and talk us blind, Henry James. I like narratives of folks, Henry James, who are toiling in their yokes, Henry James; men who saw and dig and pound, men who plough the fertile ground, men who make the wheels go round, Henry James. All your little fiddling lords, Henry James, with their endless stram of words, Henry James, are not worth one sweating jay who is toiling day by day, sawing work or bailing hay, Henry James.