Monthly Archives: August 2023

Henry James and “Sustained” Attention

A correspondent from Paris wrote recently:

“I was struck, on page 184 of my edition of The Portrait of a Lady, by James’s use of scare-quotes around “sustained” as it modifies “attention” (see attached).

It is almost as if there were some fixed phrase with which he was familiar and to which he wishes to allude…”

While much ink has been spilled on William James’s relationship to the Order of the Third Bird (see, for instance, The William James Working Group, “ ‘Fix Your Eyes Right Here !’ The Life and Times of Inyard Kip Ketchem, the Performing Attention Doctor,” Proceedings of ESTAR(SER) New Series IV, Vol. 2 [2012] : 63–91; recently reprinted in Burnett, Hansen, and Smith, In Search of the Third Bird), much less is known about the other James brother’s entanglements with avian matters. The topic invites further work, and additional references or documents are solicited.