A Passionate Pilgrim

A Passionate Pilgrim

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A Passionate Pilgrim by Henry James

Published:

1871

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A Passionate Pilgrim

By

3
(2 Reviews)

Book Excerpt

any patched-up newness of ours. It's an odd feeling--I rather like it! What should I do at home?"

"You said just now you were homesick."

"I meant I was sick for a home. Don't I belong here? Haven't I longed to get here all my life? Haven't I counted the months and the years till I should be able to 'go' as we say? And now that I've 'gone,' that is that I've come, must I just back out? No, no, I'll move on. I'm much obliged to you for your offer. I've enough money for the present. I've about my person some forty pounds' worth of British gold, and the same amount, say, of the toughness of the heaven-sent idiot. They'll see me through together! After they're gone I shall lay my head in some English churchyard, beside some ivied tower, beneath an old gnarled black yew."

I had so far distinctly followed the dialogue; but at this point the landlord entered and, begging my pardon, would suggest that number 12, a most superior apartment, having now been vacated, it would give him pleasure if I would look in.

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Early James tackling a theme familiar in his work: innocent Americans and their more experienced transatlantic cousins. The narrator overhears the conversation of two Americans who are also visiting London and takes an interest in the one whose health is failing. They coincide the following day at Hampton Court where they strike up a friendship. London, Hampton Court and Oxford are visited and admired; the relative merits of Englishness and American-ness are compared; and the sickly American half-heartedly lays claim to an old English estate not factoring in that he will fall in love with the lonely woman of the house. The ending is not quite as expected, and the way the Americans are charmed by certain parts of England is charming in itself, but non-Jamesians need not apply, so to speak.