James has always been known as a writer of refined sensibility, with a prose style renowned for its demanding complexities and subtelties of meaning; but it is often forgotten that he was a full-time writer who made a considerable part of his income from professional contracts with publishers. Despite the aesthetic demands he sometimes made of his readers, he had one eye closely on the literary marketplace. Then as Offord himself declines the narrator becomes even more appreciative of Brooksmith as they form a complicit understanding of their relative positions. He realises it will be almost impossible to locate employment offering such a cultivated milieu. The arc reaches its peak on the death of Offord, and from that point onwards Brooksmith begins his slow decline.
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Remember Me? What's New? Results 1 to 2 of 2. Thread: A discussion of Henry James's Brooksmith. I picked it simply because it was the shortest tale in the collection I had, and with Henry James, one must take small bites and progress slowly. Surprisingly, I found only one paper in the entire JSTOR database whose main object is this fascinating tale, and not too many papers that discuss it tangentially.
The first is his separation from his beloved employer and master, Mr. Offord, who was a father figure to Brooksmith. Finding that venue is quite difficult. Of his new employers and their guests, Brooksmith says to the narrator:.
Last edited by Ragnar Freund; at PM. His plight is only contrived on a superficial reading. Brooksmith lives in a world where he is an intellectual equal, if not better, yet socially inferior to his companions. He exists within the salon, but ever on the outskirts, as a consummate observer hence the narrator's gloss about the only time he saw Brooksmith approach anger. Offord can only love him through the bars of class, as a master to a servant. Brooksmith's love is conditioned in the same way.
Offord is his link to the world of the artist, and when he dies so does Brooksmith's will to live that life. It is not as simple as finding another salon, as if it were merely the venue that mattered. Besides, as a servant this would not have been an option. What he needed was a patron, and despite Offord's significant limitations, where was Brooksmith to find one for whom the key question was not "How many footmen are kept? Last edited by Insolubilia; at PM.
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The narrator tells the story of Brooksmith, a butler he had once known. Brooksmith was responsible for the preservation of the atmosphere in a retired diplomat's salon where the guests all male enjoyed a high level of intellectual conversation with the diplomat and each other. Brooksmith was regarded by the narrator as "the artist" who insured that the company at each gathering was the optimum number and mix of personalities to provide the highest level of conversation possible. This was partially of benefit to Brooksmith himself, who would linger in the room on some pretext or other in order to eavesdrop on the exchanges. The diplomat was well aware of this, and alluded to it on occasion with dryly humorous remarks. With the diplomat's death, Brooksmith loses his vocation, which to him was almost a calling.
We are scattered now, the friends of the late Mr. Oliver Offord; but whenever we chance to meet I think we are conscious of a certain esoteric respect for each other. I don't know who has it now, and don't want to know; it's enough to be so sure that if I should ring the bell there would be no such luck for me as that Brooksmith should open the door. Offord, the most agreeable, the most attaching of bachelors, was a retired diplomatist, living on his pension and on something of his own over and above; a good deal confined, by his infirmities, to his fireside and delighted to be found there any afternoon in the year, from five o'clock on, by such visitors as Brooksmith allowed to come up. Brooksmith was his butler and his most intimate friend, to whom we all stood, or I should say sat, in the same relation in which the subject of the sovereign finds himself to the prime minister. By having been for years, in foreign lands, the most delightful Englishman any one had ever known, Mr. Offord had in my opinion rendered signal service to his country.