The Aspern Papers - Henry James - Страница 1 из 138


THE ASPERN PAPERS
By Henry James
First American book edition,
Macmillan and Co., 1888.
I
I had taken Mrs. Prest into my confidence; in truth without her I
should have made but little advance, for the fruitful idea in the whole
business dropped from her friendly lips. It was she who invented the
short cut, who severed the Gordian knot. It is not supposed to be the
nature of women to rise as a general thing to the largest and most
liberal view--I mean of a practical scheme; but it has struck me that
they sometimes throw off a bold conception--such as a man would not have
risen to--with singular serenity. "Simply ask them to take you in on the
footing of a lodger"--I don't think that unaided I should have risen to
that. I was beating about the bush, trying to be ingenious, wondering
by what combination of arts I might become an acquaintance, when she
offered this happy suggestion that the way to become an acquaintance was
first to become an inmate. Her actual knowledge of the Misses Bordereau
was scarcely larger than mine, and indeed I had brought with me from
England some definite facts which were new to her. Their name had been
mixed up ages before with one of the greatest names of the century, and
they lived now in Venice in obscurity, on very small means, unvisited,
unapproachable, in a dilapidated old palace on an out-of-the-way canal:
this was the substance of my friend's impression of them. She herself
had been established in Venice for fifteen years and had done a great


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