Frank Kermode

The Figure in the Carpet and Other Stories
  • The Figure in the Carpet and Other Stories

  • The stories in this collection were written mostly between 1888 and 1897, a time when Henry James’s writing was concerned with the art of fiction and the position of the artist in society. The motif and title story, ‘The Figure in the Carpet’, is an inspired joke, a masterpiece of double-entendre that demands the reader’s undivided love and attention and continues to baffle its critics. Also included are ‘The Author of Beltraffio’, an absorbing story of family infighting, authorship and tragedy, and ‘The Private Life’, a spirited tale that considers the contrast between the artist alone and at work. While many of these stories appear to be elaborate Jamesian games, all employ irony and humour to allegorize artistic creation.

Frank Kermode has been Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English at University College London, King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at Cambridge, and Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard. His previous books include THE GENESIS OF SECRECY, AN APPETITE FOR POETRY, THE SENSE OF AN ENDING and his autobiography, NOT ENTITLED. He was knighted in 1991.

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