the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

quotes: the performing-girl

Posted by rigorousm on August 15, 2010

The ostensible, in Kate, struck him altogether, on this occasion, as prodigious….

That was the story–that she was always, for her beneficent dragon, under arms; living up, every our, but especially at festal hours, to the “value” Mrs. Lowder had attached to her. High and fixed, this estimate ruled on each occasion at Lancaster Gate the social scene; so that he now recognised in it something like the artistic idea, the plastic substance, imposed by tradition, by genius, by criticism, in respect to a given character, on a distinguished actress. As such a person was to dress the part, to walk, to look, to speak, in every way to express, the part, so all this was what Kate was to do for the character she had undertaken, under her aunt’s roof, to represent. It was made up, the character, of definite elements and touches–things all perfectly ponderable to criticism; and the way for her to meet criticism was evidently at the start to be sure her make-up had had the last touch and that she looked at least no worse than usual. Aunt Maud’s appreciation of that to-night was indeed managerial, and the performer’s own contribution fairly that of the faultless soldier on parade. Densher saw himself for the moment as in his purchased stall at the play; the watchful manager was in the depths of a box and the poor actress in the glare of the footlights. But she PASSED, the poor performer–he could see how she always passed; her wig, her paint, her jewels, every mark of her expression impeccable, and her entrance accordingly greeted with the proper round of applause. Such impressions as we thus note for Densher come and go, it must be granted, in very much less time than notation demands; but we may none the less make the point that there was, still further, time among them for him to feel almost too scared to take part in the ovation. He struck himself as having lost, for the minute, his presence of mind–so that in any case he only stared in silence at the older woman’s technical challenge and at the younger one’s disciplined face. It was as if the drama–it thus came to him, for the fact of a drama there was no blinking–was between THEM, them quite preponderantly; with Merton Densher relegated to mere spectatorship, a paying place in front, and one of the most expensive.

— Henry James, Wings of the Dove, Book Sixth, Chapter 3.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: