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Hugh Walpole: War killed Henry James


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

Hugh Walpole: Selections on war

Henry James: War, the waste of life and time and money


Hugh Walpole
From The Crystal Box

And yet, with all that absorption, there was perhaps no human being in the whole of Europe during the first years of the war who felt so poignantly, so directly, so personally the agony of it all as James. It would be true enough to say that the war killed him.


For the first time a great curiosity sprang up in me and I watched grown ups with eager interest. I had absolute faith in their wisdom and knowledge but now they were not only wise and learned but mysterious – another order of beings. And that sense of the marvelous superior mystery continued long after I was grown up, continued in fact until the war and the persons who “managed” the war killed it once and forever.


We are told that just now we must not talk or write about the war – there is a kind of conspiracy of “Hush,” and in some curious way it does seem that the after war troubles of these recent years have kept us in the war with a kind of against-our-will disgust.

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