Quotation by Myrick Land

The differences between the youthful H.G. Wells and the mature Henry James were so basic and numerous that it seems almost miraculous that they ever knew each other well enough to have started a feud. James was fastidious and was preoccupied in many of his works with matters of taste and high society. Wells could be slovenly, considered James's taste artificial, and found any young scientist far more interesting than a room full of dukes and duchesses. James was an artist who seemed to feel the chief value of life was to give him subjects for his novels. Wells wanted to have a hand in reshaping life and constructing a new world, and considered his books merely useful tools toward these ends. James would agonize for hours over a single sentence, refining and refining it until sometimes only his most devoted readers cared to thread their way through the innumerable clauses he found necessary for communication of his exact meaning. Wells scoffed at such painstaking craftsmanship, and preferred to state his ideas so that even the slowest reader could follow him without difficulty. James was an artist, however tortured his sentences finally became. Wells was a propagandist, however skillfully he stated his sometimes complex ideas.
Myrick Land (b. 1922). The Fine Art of Literary Mayhem: A Lively Account of Famous Writers and Their Feuds, 2nd edition, ch. 8, Lexicos (1983).
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