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Day 9

Chapters 17–19

July 17, 2020 by Garth Greenwell

James is the great novelist of introspection—but he is also a very great writer of scenes. Ch 17 is a masterpiece of stagecraft, & ends w/ maybe the book's creepiest moment. A gust of wind, a shriek, a candle blown out—& all the windows shut tight. —Garth

The governess denies the children a past (they have no “history”) & a future (she can only imagine an “extension of the garden & the park”). Here—& earlier w/ Miles, when she thinks of him as “an older person”—she denies them childhood altogether. —Garth

“At such times she’s not a child—she’s an old, old woman.”

James’s abundant, florid use of metaphor can be difficult. Here we have 2 images: a drawn blade & a spilling cup. Commas before “in a flash” & after “drawn blade” would make it easier to read—but also lose the brilliant tumble & rush of the sentence. —Garth

“These three words from her were in a flash like the glitter of a drawn blade the jostle of the cup that my hand for weeks and weeks had held high and full to the brim and that now, even before speaking, I felt overflow in a deluge.”

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