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Friday, October 9, 2015

Garden Party

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 10:30 PM

The Ambassadors

"The place itself was a great impression—
a small pavilion, clear-faced and sequestered,
an effect of polished parquet, of fine white panel
and spare sallow gilt, of decoration delicate and
rare, in the heart of the Faubourg Saint-Germain
and on the edge of a cluster of gardens attached
to old noble houses. Far back from streets and
unsuspected by crowds, reached by a long passage
and a quiet court, it was as striking to the unprepared
mind, he immediately saw, as a treasure dug up;
giving him too, more than anything yet, the note of
the range of the immeasurable town and sweeping
away, as by a last brave brush, his usual landmarks
and terms. It was in the garden, a spacious cherished
remnant, out of which a dozen persons had already
passed, that Chad's host presently met them; while
the tall bird-haunted trees, all of a twitter with the
spring and the weather, and the high party-walls,
on the other side of which grave hôtels  stood off for
privacy, spoke of survival, transmission, association,
a strong indifferent persistent order. The day was so
soft that the little party had practically adjourned to
the open air, but the open air was in such conditions
all a chamber of state. Strether had presently the
sense of a great convent, a convent of missions,
famous for he scarce knew what, a nursery of young
priests, of scattered shade, of straight alleys and
chapel-bells, that spread its mass in one quarter;
he had the sense of names in the air, of ghosts at the
windows, of signs and tokens, a whole range of
expression, all about him, too thick for prompt
discrimination."

— Henry James, 1909 edition of the 1903 novel

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