‘That’s All’

This kind of outburst is precisely why I dislike being cornered by those ‘relationship’ conversations.

‘I don’t care what you make of it, and I don’t ask anything whatever of you — anything but this. I want to have said it — that’s all; I want not to have failed to say it. To see you once and be with you, to be as we are now and as we used to be, for one small hour — or say for two — that’s what I’ve had for weeks in my head. I mean, of course, to get it before — before what you’re going to do. So, all this while, you see,’ she went on with her eyes on him, ‘it was a question for me if I should be able to manage it in time. If I couldn’t have come now I probably shouldn’t have come at all — perhaps even ever. Now that I’m here I shall stay, but there were moments over there when I despaired. It wasn’t easy — there were reasons; but it was either this or nothing. So I didn’t struggle, you see, in vain. After — oh I didn’t want that! I don’t mean,’ she smiled, ‘that it wouldn’t have been delightful to see you even then – to see you at any time; but I would never have come for it. This is different. This is what I wanted. This is what I’ve got. This is what I shall always have. This is what I should have missed, of course,’ she pursued, ‘if you had chosen to make me miss it. If you had thought me horrid, had refused to come, I should, naturally, have been immensely “sold”. I had to take the risk. Well, you’re all I could have hoped. That’s what I was to have said. I didn’t want simply to get my time with you, but I wanted you to know. I wanted you’ — she kept it up, slowly, softly, with a small tremor of voice but without the least failure of sense or sequence — ‘I wanted you to understand. I wanted you, that is, to hear. I don’t care, I think, whether you understand or not. If I ask nothing of you I don’t – I mayn’t – ask even so much as that. What you may think of me – that doesn’t in the least matter. What I want is that it shall always be with you – so that you’ll never be able quite to get rid of it – that I did. I won’t say that you did – you may make as little of that as you like. But that I was here with you where we are and as we are – I just saying this. Giving myself, in other words, away – and perfectly willing to do it for nothing. That’s all.’

Henry James, The Golden Bowl

7 Responses to “‘That’s All’”

  1. Zed Says:

    James is so annoying and so amazing all at once.

  2. darknessatnoon Says:

    Exactly. I totally get why people worship Henry James. I just wish those same people would also acknowledge how absurd he is as well.

  3. darknessatnoon Says:

    One of the things that so amuses me about this passage is how pleased the Prince is that she doesn’t expect him to respond to her.

  4. Jennykat Says:

    Henry James wrote the same story over and over again… and it was essentially an adolescent love affair. So emotional outbursts are only to be expected– especially after all that repression!

  5. darknessatnoon Says:

    It’s hilarious to me that The Golden Bowl is basically about how to mooch off your lover while emotionally cheating on her.

  6. Victoria J. van Dijk Says:

    I faintly recall having said something of this nature to a woman–albeit with much less prolixity and, I think, something approximating real emotion–in a moment of too much sensibility bordering on temporary insanity. She rejected me on the spot. Strange thing was, she’s one of those James freaks. Guess I should have been more prolix, but after all these years, when I think about her, I come to a couple of conclusions: Firstly, anyone who talks like a Henry James character deserves to be rejected; and, secondly, it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. God help me if she’d actually ever wanted me for anything more than momentary amusement. It would have been a one-way ticket to hell.

  7. darknessatnoon Says:

    Actually, if I’m ever forced into one of those “relationship” conversations, this is how I talk … mostly in order not to have to hear the other person discuss their feelings with me. It’s all about a low tolerance for “Otherness.”

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