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The Secret Lives of Words

Some time ago, I fell into conversation with a colleague about what we had been reading lately, and the person suggested that I absolutely must give Henry James’s “The Ambassadors” a try.

The pandemic intervened, and I forgot the recommendation. But I remembered recently and picked up the novel. Frankly, despite my profound respect for the book, it was a bit of a slog. James’s writing, especially in his last few novels, is not exactly for the beach. His tapeworm sentences qualify as literary Cubism at best or obsessive obfuscation at worst. Even James

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