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But James was never a good critic of contemporary writers. ' he would say. And he wrote of D. H. Lawrence 'trailing in the dusty rear' in those famous Times articles. He could see little in the novels of E. M. Forster. Wells and Bennett were to him intolerably diffuse. He did, quite naturally, wonder why novelists in general paid so little attention to form, did not consider more seriously their 'subjects', and so on. All this is, of course, generally known. What is not so generally known is that the failure of his own Collected Edition 5 struck him a blow from which he never properly recovered.
Something dreadful had occurred. 'For God's sake tell me', I murmured. JAMES'S FRIENDSHIPS 25 With delight he showed me the letter. James and I had forgotten altogether to fill in the names of those to whom the letter was sent. ' And this to people as dignified, as unassailably great as John Morley and Mrs Humphry Ward! Oh yes, Gosse was angry! I have his letter still. But the real point of it is that Henry James took the blame entirely upon himself and chose the reception day for the subscribers at Sargent's studio to explain the facts.
The rest of America, he declared, seemed to be inhabited by Italians, and you heard no English in the streets. As for New York, he said, it had been pulled down and rebuilt at least twice since his last visit; the city was, to the man who remembered it in the seventies and eighties, unrecognisable. To find an old friend in the same house was impossible. Henry James's face was so tragic in repose, that when he smiled it was an event which made the whole room light up. Not long before he died, I was talking to Sir Claude Phillips in a picture gallery when we came across him face to face.