February 15, 2016

Maisie, knowing




...The beauty of the day only deepened, and the splendour of the afternoon sea; and the haze of the far headlands, and the taste of the sweet air ... Maisie had seen the plage the day before with Sir Claude, but that was a reason the more for showing on the spot to Mrs. Wix that it was, as she said, another of the places on her list and of the things of which she knew the French name. The bathers, so late, were absent and the tide was low; the sea-pools twinkled in the sunset and there were dry places as well, where they could sit again and admire and expiate. ...
      ... Mrs Wix saw her as a little person knowing so extraordinarily much that, for the account to be taken of it, what she still didn't know would be ridiculous if it hadn't been embarrassing ... As she was condemned to know more and more, how could it logically stop before she should know Most? It came to her in fact as they sat there on the sands that she was distinctly on the road to know Everything.  She had not had governesses for nothing; what in the world had she ever done but learn and learn and learn?  She looked at the pink sky with a placid foreboding that she soon should have learnt All.

from What Maisie Knew, by Henry James


 {The painting is 'The Beach at Boulogne,' by Edouard Manet, found here}

3 comments:

Cosy Books said...

I finished 'What Maisie Knew' this morning, Audrey. It's such a sad commentary on what happens to broken families and children's perceptions. It's also not a book I'm likely to ever forget! I'll be mulling over the details for a day or two and then posting my thoughts.

JoAnn said...

I'm behind on reading and haven't reached this passage yet, but am impressed with the novel so far. It's easy to see now how the movie version would work in a modern setting.

Frances said...

What a fantastic choice to pull from the text! Love how what Maisie knew becomes more apparent, the evolution from a child who withholds her true response to please to someone coming into her own and more forthcoming. Really enjoyed the reading experience.