Saturday, October 13, 2012

Worlds collide

At home, in paperback, I am (re)reading Tom Jones, by Henry Fielding. Out and about, on my Kindle, I am (re)reading The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James. Both authors named Henry, but not much else in common. They are quite different reading experiences.

Fielding is a man of the 18th Century and the Enlightenment -- although still firmly grounded in Christianity -- and Tom Jones is a perfectly structured comedy, sometimes sophisticated sometimes broad and bawdy.

James a man of the 19th Century. Is he a product of Romanticism? I don't know. His style is unique, which is perhaps just as well. Somewhat rarefied and hyper-refined. He's a genius, but no one else should try to imitate him. I can only read a Henry James novel once in a great while because of the level of attention required. Thankfully, Portrait of a Lady an earlier work and not quite as "Jamesian" as some of his later stuff. I confess I've started The Golden Bowl several times but never have gotten very far.

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