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Living Up to the Name: ‘Mora Montravers’

  • N. H. Reeve

Abstract

So many of James’s narratives turn upon a moment when one character suddenly becomes aware of the intimacy between two others, that it seems fitting his last completed story, ‘Mora Montravers’ (1909), should follow suit.1 Mora, the niece and ward of Sidney and Jane Traffle, absconds from their home in Wimbledon, apparently to live in Chelsea with her painting-teacher Walter Puddick — a move which appalls Jane, but which Sidney, who likes to think of himself as something of an artist, is quite eager to tolerate. But when Sidney, having stumbled upon Mora in the National Gallery, catches sight of ‘a pleasantly masterful-looking gentleman’ who is clearly not Puddick, and is coming openly to meet her, he is forced to realize that the girl had only been pausing in Puddick’s studio en route to her new career as an aristocrat’s mistress. The difference, in all its facets, is transporting her too far away for Traffle to follow: ‘his sense was of having seen the last of Mora as completely as if she had just seated herself in the car of a rising balloon that would never descend again to earth’ (313).

Keywords

National Gallery Music Lesson Notebook Entry Tight Place Society Problem 
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Notes

  1. 2.
    Fred Kaplan, Henry James: The Imagination of Genius (London, 1992), p. 35.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Ruth Bernard Yeazell, Language and Knowledge in the Late Novels of Henry James (University of Chicago Press, 1976), pp. 37–63.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    See for instance Tony Tanner, ‘The Watcher from the Balcony’, Critical Quarterly, 8.1 (1966), 35–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 5.
    Millicent Bell, Meaning in Henry James (Harvard University Press, 1991), p. 326.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    Henry James Autobiography, ed. F. W. Dupee (London, 1956) pp. 68–9.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. H. Reeve

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