Home  »  Five Short Stories  »  Criticisms and Interpretations. I. By Henry James

Alphonse Daudet (1840–1897). Five Short Stories.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.

Criticisms and Interpretations. I. By Henry James

THE CHARM of Daudet’s talent comes from its being charged to an extraordinary degree with his temperament, his feelings, his instincts, his natural qualities. This, of course, is a charm in a style only when nature has been generous. To Alphonse Daudet she has been exceptionally so; she has placed in his hand an instrument of many chords. A delicate nervous organisation, active and indefatigable in spite of its delicacy, and familiar with emotion of almost every kind, equally acquainted with pleasure and with pain; a light, quick, joyous, yet reflective, imagination, a faculty of seeing images, making images, at every turn, of conceiving everything in the visible form, in the plastic spirit; an extraordinary sensibility to all the impressions of life and a faculty of language which is in perfect harmony with his wonderful fineness of perception—these are some of the qualities of which he is the happy possessor, and which make his equipment for the work he has undertaken exceedingly rich.—From “Partial Portraits” (1888).