Henry James: Paste

(1258 words)

Dating from 1899, “Paste” is a neglected story, infused with late Jamesian subtlety, which like the eponymous pearls at first appears a mere pastiche but comes to acquire a warm, erotic glow with successive readings. In this it is an apt tribute to Maupassant, whose art can seem cheap, yet reveals subtle depth. When James claimed that the story “was to consist but of the ingenious thought of transposing the terms of one of Guy de Maupassant’s admirable contes [‘La Parure’]” (The New York Edition , Vol. XVI, x), so that the mistake is to be “a matter not of a false treasure supposed to be true and precious, but of a real treasure supposed to be false and hollow” (ib.), he had …

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O'Leary, Joseph. "Paste". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 09 June 2008
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=21696, accessed 25 September 2016.]