This dark comedy, one of the masterpieces of James' final period, follows the trip of protagonist Lewis Lambert Strether to Europe in pursuit of his widowed fiancée's supposedly wayward son. Strether is to bring the young man back to the family business, but he encounters unexpected complications. (summary from Wikipedia)
ly no warrant but its splendid impudence. Let us grant then that the impudence is always there--there, so to speak, for grace and effect and ALLURE; there, above all, because the Story is just the spoiled child of art, and because, as we are always disappointed when the pampered don't "play up," we like it, to that extent, to look all its character. It probably does so, in truth, even when we most flatter ourselves that we negotiate with it by treaty.
All of which, again, is but to say that the STEPS, for my fable, placed themselves with a prompt and, as it were, functional assurance--an air quite as of readiness to have dispensed with logic had I been in fact too stupid for my clue. Never, positively, none the less, as the links multiplied, had I felt less stupid than for the determination of poor Strether's errand and for the apprehension of his issue. These things continued to fall together, as by the neat action of their own weight and form, even while their commentator scratched his head about the