John O'Flynn - Artist

John O'Flynn - Artist

Henry James, "The Aspern Papers"

This sketch, for an illustration of Henry James "The Aspern Papers" (1907), shows the protagonist in an audience with the reclusive octogenarian Miss Bordereau. Miss Bordereau is shown seated in the dark interior of her long-time retreat from world outside, a jaded Venetian "palazzo". She is contrasted to the worldly stance & situation of the protagonist, relaxing on the outside balcony in the full glare of the Venetian sunlight, overlooking the garden that he has rehabilitated during his stay, with the Venetian skyline beyond. In a more finished version of this illustration, the papers in Miss Bordereau's lap, or on the floor, might be made more obvious, being a reference to the private letters between Miss Bordereau and her life's love, the long dead but illustrious poet James Aspern. These are the "Papers" of the story's title, and which the protagonist has long plotted to get his hands on!

 

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