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Henry  James
亨利•詹姆斯
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Henry James
Henry James had this to say about the Impressionists after seeing their exhibition in 1876:
The young contributors to the exhibition of which I speak are partisans of unadorned reality and absolute foes to arrangement, embellishment, selection, to the artist's allowing himself, as he has hitherto, since art began, found his best account in doing, to be preoccupied with the idea of the beautiful. [. . .] [They] declare that the subject which has been crudely chosen shall be loosely treated. They send detail to the dogs and concentrate themselves on the general expression. (The Painter's Eye 114-15)
Over the years, James modified his initial criticism of Impressionism, especially after his friend Sargent became associated with the movement. James wrote the following in his 1893 essay on Sargent:
From the time of his first successes at the Salon [Sargent] was hailed, I believe, as a recruit of high value to the camp of the Impressionists, and to-day he is for many people pigeon-holed under that head. It is not necessary to protest against the classification if this addition always be made to it, that Mr. Sargent's impressions happen to be worthy of record. This is by no means inveterately the case with those of the ingenuous artists who most rejoice in the title in question. To render the impression of an object may be a very fruitful effort, but it is not necessarily so; that will depend upon what, I won't say the object, but the impression, may have been. The talents engaged in this school lie, not unjustly, as it seems to me, under the suspicion of seeking the solution of their problem exclusively in simplification. If a painter works for other eyes as well as his own he courts a certain danger in this direction-that of being arrested by the cry of the spectator: 'Ah! But excuse me; I myself take more impressions than that!' We feel a synthesis not to be an injustice only when it is rich. Mr. Sargent simplifies, I think, but he simplifies with style, and his impression is the finest form of his energy. (The Painter's Eye 217-18)
James himself has been called a literary impressionist. In a famous passage in his essay "The Art of Fiction" (1884, contemporaneous with Sargent's A Dinner Table at Night) James characterizes experience as being made up of impressions. For James, an impression is an expanding awareness of what the eye sees:
Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spiderweb of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every airborne particle in its tissue. It is the very atmosphere of the mind; and when the mind is imaginative-much more when it happens to be that of a man of genius-it takes to itself the faintest hints of life, it converts the very pulses of the air into revelations. [. . .] The power to guess the unseen from the seen, to trace the implications of things, to judge the whole piece by the pattern, the condition of feeling life in general so completely that you are well on your way to knowing any particular corner of it-this cluster of gifts may almost be said to constitute experience, and they occur in country and in town, and in the most differing stages of education. If experience consists of impressions, it may be said that impressions are experience, just as (have we not seen it?) they are the very air we breathe. Therefore, if I should certainly say to a novice, "Write from experience and experience only," I should feel that this was rather a tantalizing monition if I were not careful immediately to add, "Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost!" (Norton 2: 376)

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