Sunday, March 29, 2015

"It is impossible to imagine anything more expressive of the numerous ideas represented by the French epithet bourgeois than these straight facades of clean black brick capped with a rococo gable of stone painted white" H. James #QotD

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It is impossible to imagine anything more expressive of the numerous ideas represented by the French epithet bourgeois than these straight facades of clean black brick capped with a rococo gable of stone painted white, and armed like the forehead of the unicorn with a little horizontal horn — a bracket and pulley for hauling storable goods into the attic. The famous Dutch cleanliness seems to me quite on a level with its reputation, and asserts itself in the most ingenious and ludicrous ways ... The windows are of those huge plates of glass which offer a delectably uninterrupted field for friction; but they are masked internally by thick white blinds, invariably drawn, and the only use of their transparency to any mortal is to enable the passer-by to examine the texture of the stuff. The front doors are hedged in with little square padlocked barriers, to guard the doorsteps from the pollution of footprints, and the visitor must pocket his pride and apply at an humbler portal with the baker and the milkman. In such houses must dwell people whose nerves are proof against the irritation of minute precautions — people who cover their books with white paper and find occasion for a week's conversation in a mysterious drop of candle-grease on a tablecloth. 

Henry James. Transatlantic Sketches (1875) , p. 385-87

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