Our Girl in Chicago brings up the subject of humor in Henry James, which reminds me of a favorite passage in The American Scene. Absent from his homeland many years, James finds himself, for reasons not quite divulged, on a steamer to the Jersey shore within a few hours of his arrival. If I am not mistaken, what follows is the world's first New Jersey joke:
Heavy with fruit, in particular, was the whole spreading bough that rustled above me during an afternoon, a very wonderful afternoon, that I spent in being ever so wisely driven, driven further and further, into the large lucidity of — well, of what else shall I call it but a New Jersey condition? ... It might have threatened, for twenty minutes, to be almost complicating, but the truth was recorded: it was an adventure, unmistakably, to have a revelation made so convenient — to be learning at last, in the maturity of one's powers, what New Jersey might "connote." This was nearer than I had ever come to any such experience; and it was now as if, all my life, my curiosity had been greater than I knew.
This seems as good a moment as any to reveal that I am taking another break from the blog; I must spend a few dark weeks in the maw of Book. I'll be back in time for Actual Easter. Please patronize Music Blogs. Support a starving composer.