Monday, November 8, 2010

_What Maisie Knew_

In his Preface, Henry James himself picks out two scenes in What Maisie Knew as demonstrating particular excellence. One of these is the scene where the Captain, Maisie's mother's lover, says the first nice words Maisie has ever heard about her mother in her entire life, moving her to tears. The other is the scene where Maisie's father urges his daughter to let him take her to America, all the while making it quite clear to her nonverbally that he desperately wants her to refuse. Perhaps because these are the scenes James himself picks out, perhaps because they really are quite excellent, I did in fact remember both these scenes.

But I did not remember the scene in which the following happens:

ELDERLY WIDOW: Your father is a manwhore. And that's his best quality.
. . .
. . .
ELDERLY WIDOW: Your beloved stepmother is also a whore.
SMALL GIRL [Maisie's age at this point is slightly unclear, but I would guess she's twelve or thirteen): Well, but aren't you a whore too?

I so much <3 Henry James!

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