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The Figure In The Carpet

3.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  514 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
RETURNING to town I feverishly collected them all; I picked out each in its order and held it up to the light. This gave me a maddening month, in the course of which several things took place. One of these, the last, I may as well immediately mention, was that I acted on Vereker's advice: I renounced my ridiculous attempt. I could really make nothing of the business; it pr ...more
Published June 1st 2004 by Kessinger Publishing (first published 1896)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,060)
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Bookworm Sean
I feel like Henry James misunderstood a key component of reading, literary criticism and book reviews. This story presents an ideal that for me misses the point entirely.

An author has written a book; he receives many positive reviews for his work. They are all flattering and intelligent. However, according to him, none of them see the true majesty of the work. None of them pick up on his supposed subtlety and obscure meaning he layered his writing with. Indeed, they miss the complex figure in th
Glenn Russell
Nov 01, 2015 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This Henry James short story published in 1896 is a lustrous, clear Tahitian pearl for those of us here on Goodreads since the first-person narrator is a young book reviewer who becomes obsessed with both Hugh Vereker, a much celebrated novelist, and also Vereker’s novels, which all started when he penned a glowing review of the latest Verkeker and then had occasion to meet the great novelist himself at an evening social. Enjoying his magazine review and also recognizing a fellow lover of litera
Apr 02, 2016 Sofia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Σου κάνει το μυαλό πλυντήριο για να καταλήξει,κατα την γνώμη μου,ότι η αναζήτηση της κεντρικής ιδέας δεν μπορεί και δεν πρέπει να γινεται αυτοσκοπός.
Saoirse Sterling
I cannot figure out why I liked this so: I dislike short stories and first-person narrative in almost all occasions, but this was wonderful. It drew me in, it kept me wondering, it gave me joy. It was an odd story, but I liked that. Written well, in that Victorian style so superbly used then, and giving me faith in this little collection once more.
I don't get Henry James.

After reading "A turn of the screw", I was left scratching my head.

After reading "The figure in the carpet", I was left shrugging.

James just gives me the impression of being too clever for his own good. Cryptic, too.

I enjoyed the ride and, naïvely enough, waited for a satisfying unveiling of the mysterious figure in the carpet. I should have known better. In a way, I understand the joke's on me, the reader. Perhaps the whole point is that there is no figure in the carp
May 01, 2016 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, historical
'She felt in italics and thought in capitals.'
I don't care much for Henry James' writing, but this quote is absolutely gorgeous.

I did like this tale better than In the Cage. Here, the unnamed narrator becomes obsessed with knowing the secret connection or meaning between all the novels of Hugh Vereker. But every person who knows the secret dies before sharing it with the narrator, leaving him clueless by the end. I like the idea that Vereker might be lying about his claim - authors can boast
Marts  (Thinker)
The narrator reviews Hugh Vereker's latest novel and is quite baffled when Vereker tells him that he's "missed my little point," "the particular thing I've written my books most for," "the thing for the critic to find," "my secret," "like a complex figure in a Persian carpet."
The narrator tries to solve the riddle even seeking the help of his friend Corvick and his fiancée, Gwendolyn, but to no avail...
What is the 'little point', can it only be revealed to those of a particular status? Or is it
Emily May
not as tightly wound as some of James' other stories
Katie Lumsden
Maybe 3.5. An intriguing, well-written story, certainly making me want to read more James in the future!
Dec 27, 2015 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
THE FIGURE IN THE CARPET and Other Stories. (1888-1897). Henry James. ****.
The eight short stories collected in this book all have a common theme: the failure of the critic or the average reader to comprehend the true purpose of the writer. I’d recommend that you skip right through to the title story, “The Figure in the Carpet,” and then go back and read the rest of the selections. The title story is the most obvious of James’ intent and sets the scene for the rest of the works. All of the works
Nov 13, 2015 Jule rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, very-old
I am very grateful that I read this book. Amidst all the bland YA and overladen crime, reading a classic once in a while is really refreshing. This is short, but very straight forward. Not a word too much, yet enough suspense to keep you reading and enough open questions and hints to keep you thinking. This is good literature, true literature, and the publication date of 1896 should not deter people from reading these. Not every book not published in the past ten years and involving either a you ...more
Eleni (OverThePlace)
You drove me insane, I'll give you that!
May 21, 2014 Sophie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
J'avais déjà eu ce livre à lire dans le cadre d'une lecture obligatoire, mais comme je ne me souvenais de rien, j'ai entrepris de me rafraîchir la mémoire. Le hic, c'est que depuis la première lecture, j'ai lu un autre récit d'Henry James, The Turn of the Screw, et que fatalement, je compare ce récit réaliste au Turn, fantastique.

La force de cette novella (à défaut d'avoir un meilleur terme que l'anglais) réside dans sa capacité à construire un suspense malaisant avec pratiquement rien. L'impor
Jean Carlton
Less compelling than some of his other stories;perhaps because it was so much like The Beast in the Jungle. I got restless with it. I do like the method our instructor is using in this Mod. Fiction class...that is reading thematically as opposed to chronologically. We've read 4 Henry James stories and now will follow up with Colm Toibin's The Master which is about Henry James.
Hmm. Not for me this one.
I didn't enjoy the writing style and the story just didn't keep me interested.
Such is the way with the Little Black Classics - some work for the reader and some don't. I don't think there is an expectation that they will all work for everyone!
Feb 22, 2016 Qi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The metaphor may be the tantalizing mystery of a central figure obscured yet pulsing through art. But the narrative left me chilled. It lacks of certain empathic power for this reader to care much about the process of discovery.
May 26, 2013 Ffiamma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana
una novella sulla lettura, sui misteri della letteratura, sul lettore che si ritrova a cercare misteriose chiavi di accesso ai libri simili alle figure nascoste dei tappeti persiani. enigmatica e coinvolgente.
Sashi Bankova
'“Nobody sees anything!” she
cheerfully announced; to which I replied that I had often
thought so too, but had somehow taken the thought for a
proof on my own part of a tremendous eye.' :D
Susan Kent
Took me a while to understand what was going on, as some of the words were unfamiliar. Didn't answer the main question in the story though.
Liz BooksandStuff
I would not start reading James with this work, he has many very well-written others. This is mostly bland.
Douglas Dalrymple
Mar 28, 2014 Douglas Dalrymple rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of the stories from James’s middle period that deal with authorship and the writer’s art, the best by far (I think) is The Middle Years. My least favorite is The Death of the Lion. The present title occupies a middle ground, alongside The Lesson of the Master perhaps. Hugh Vereker, the author character in The Figure in the Carpet, has supposedly hidden some secret message that runs, like a figure in a carpet, through all his works. Can his young admirer decode it? Is it worth decoding? What is t ...more
Aug 02, 2012 Safae rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own, french
i'll upload the edition i read of the book soon ^^
Mar 16, 2016 Jo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weeellll... Not sure really. I hadn't read any Henry James and I though this might be a good introduction to see if I'd like to read more of his work. Answer: probably not. It is beautifully written and that is a joy, but I did find the minutiae of the riddle (I wouldn't call it a mystery) irritating and the obsession of the characters even more so. I felt like shouting "there is a world out the grand scheme of things this is of zero importance". So, no. Not my kind of thing, despite ...more
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Roya Eve
Jan 05, 2016 Roya Eve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Z Coonen
Since there are no blurbs about the plot, here are a few lines copied from Wikipedia on
9/13/15 about the beginning of the novella:

The narrator, a writer for a literary newspaper, prides himself on his astute review of Hugh Vereker's latest novel. Vereker inadvertently dismisses his efforts, and then to repair his incivility, confides in the narrator that all critics have "missed my little point," "the particular thing I've written my books most for," "the thing for the critic to find," "my secre
Jun 19, 2014 Ayesha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this very short book, and wonder what you will think of the Author's suggestion about books and their writers in general. What did you think of the ending? I can't say much more without giving it away. I am sure its available on Guetenberg, so just take an hour and read the book. Well worth it, not only for the story itself, but also for the way it will make you think differently about the next few books you read.
Jul 10, 2016 rosamund rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My first Henry James. This is a very confusing short story -- not helped, I thought, by James' laboured and over-the-top prose. I felt like it didn't amount to very much at all: the mystery, if there is a mystery, is unsolved, and the narrator has learnt nothing.
Sep 12, 2015 Maggie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
beautiful sentence structure, as always; worth studying; the story itself captures even as it seems leaden or over-wrought. the central point is "the writer's over-arching central idea w/in all works" can be metaphorically referred to as "the figure in the (persian) carpet" and is always worth the effort. it's up to the reader though; the writer has done his/her part by constructing the oeuvre. fair position, imo.

second reading (12 september 2015) by way of an audiobook ... as usual i need a lo
May 18, 2015 Russio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read about thirty of these little black marvels, I had deliberately kept this one back until last, smirking the shorter prose of James as I have. In retrospect, I should have read it earlier, leaving the honour of final place to Johann Peter Hebel's wonderful addition to the collection. However, this is perfectly enjoyable: a mean-spirited, slightly playful lampooning of the "art" of the critic, seemingly oozing with malice from the pen of the writer, as the foolish critic I question is s ...more
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Henry James, OM, son of theologian Henry James Sr., brother of the philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James, was an American-born author, one of the founders and leaders of a school of realism in fiction. He spent much of his life in England and became a British subject shortly before his death. He is primarily known for a series of major novels in which he portrayed the ...more
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“It stretches, this little trick of mine, from book to book, and everything else, comparatively, plays over the surface of it. The order, the form, the texture of my books will perhaps some day constitute for the initiated a complete representation of it.” 0 likes
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