I love books. There’s no feeling more wonderful than cracking a new spine and diving into an engaging storyline. Reading boosts my creativity, expands my vocabulary, and develops my writing skills. Really and truly, books are my life.
Not only do I love books — I love most genres and authors, too. I can get lost in a good fantasy, trace the clues in a mystery, and root for relationships in a romance. I can stomach a few Nicholas Sparks novels, and I absolutely adore anything Agatha Christie. At bare minimum, I appreciate the effort authors put into each novel, and I admire the unique style of every book.
With that said, I’ve got to be honest: I hate Henry James. Yes, yes, I know — I’m an English major, so I can’t hate him. He’s a pioneer of Modernism and literary Impressionism, an innovator of stream of consciousness, and a master of ambiguity. I know all of this, but it doesn’t change the fact that I think he is one big weenie.
- What is he even saying?
James’ sentences are like reaching level 10,000 of Snake. They wind down the page, eating up commas, dashes, and semicolons, and for what? What is the point of including five hundred clauses in one massive sentence?
- No really, what is he even saying?
Not only are James’ sentences really long; they also make zero sense. Perhaps it’s because he uses too many personal pronouns, because he never writes what his characters are actually thinking, or because everyone uses the same three adjectives to describe people and events. Either way, I find that his sentences go in one ear and right out the other.
- Master of ambiguity my a**
I am all for being an active participant in literature. I enjoy figuring out the missing pieces in James Joyce’s short stories or the different narrative threads in T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland. Actively decoding and constructing meaning in a text is fun, but James just takes it to a whole new level. Everything every character says ever can be taken to mean at least two different things. No semblance of a conclusion or resolution is ever reached. Every little detail is ambiguous, which honestly negates the purpose of including detail. James takes ambiguity to level one hundred, and it’s super frustrating.
- He literally never gets to the point
Sometimes, James will write ‘to be brief,’ and it makes me laugh in frustration. James is never brief, and he never actually gets to the point. He has a wonderful talent for talking all around something, but he will never talk directly about that thing. Such fun.
- He’s a pompous d-bag
I’m currently enrolled in a class allllll about Henry James. In this class, we not only read his novels; we also read his own literary criticism and secondary criticism on his novels. In his own essays, he chastises those who aren’t as ambiguous or long-winded as he. Basically, he rags on writers who don’t write like him. Sounds like a humble man, amiright?
Now you know just how deep my hatred for Henry James goes — it goes right down to my very core. I don’t care that he’s a supposed master of style and language. At the end of the day, I think he’s worth less than a sack of potatoes.