Process Over Result

“She spoke with an earnestness that, as if almost excessive, put him at ease about her possible derision.  Somehow the whole question was a new luxury to him  – that is, from the moment she was in possession.  If she didn’t take the ironic view she clearly took the sympathetic, and that was what he had had, in all the long time, from no one whomsoever.  What he felt was that he couldn’t at present have begun to tell her and yet could profit perhaps exquisitely by the accident of having done so of old.  “Please don’t then.  We’re just right as it is.””

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle”, in Major Stories & Essays, Library of America College Editions, 1999), p451

Notes: this passage is a great example of modernity in writing in that it is not so much interested in informing the reader what it is that happened as it is interested in revealing the process by which people or characters arrive at things.

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