Friday, February 23, 2007

‘A Very Trifling Incident’

In A Stroll with William James, which I remember staying up all night to read when it was first published, the way some read mystery novels, Jacques Barzun writes:

James’s heroism, then, was both of the public and the quotidian kind, which is not spectacular, barely describable, except perhaps in the admirable words of William’s sister Alice: ‘the only thing which survives is the resistance we bring to life and not the strain life brings to us.’ In William, the last record of fortitude is the remark of his final days that his death ‘had come to seem a very trifling incident.’

— Patrick Kurp, ‘A Very Trifling Incident’

See also Kurp, ‘Clarity, Individuality, Beauty of Writing’.