Sunday, April 7, 2013

The crooked timber of self-interest

Anthony Lane reviews the book 'Portrait of a Lady' and talks about why it is such a great American novel. Henry James wrote about "the crooked timber of self-interest in the most altruistic of intentions..." and Lane asks, "Are we all so mercenary, cutting and trimming people, whether unwittingly or by design, to fit the pattern of our own desires? Such are the politics of personhood." I loved the language of the review and the fact that it mirrored the struggle between self-sufficiency and its limits. Here's another sentence that I liked.."and so the book traffics back and forth, with sublime indecision, between the need to stand firm, in Emersonian majesty, and the yearning to break one's pose and join the more crowded landscape of mankind."

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