The Death of the Lion

The Death of the Lion

“The Death of the Lion” is a short story by Henry James. The narrator suggests writing an article on Neil Paraday; his new editor agrees. The former spends a week with Neil and writes the article whilst there, alongside reading Paraday’s latest book. His editor rejects the article however; he decides to write an article for another newspaper, but it goes unnoticed. Neil Paraday gets excited about writing another book, despite the fact that he doesn’t seem successful still.

An excerpt:

I had simply, I suppose, a change of heart, and it must have begun when I received my manuscript back from Mr. Pinhorn. Mr. Pinhorn was my “chief,” as he was called in the office: he had the high mission of bringing the paper up. This was a weekly periodical, which had been supposed to be almost past redemption when he took hold of it. It was Mr. Deedy who had let the thing down so dreadfully: he was never mentioned in the office now save in connexion with that misdemeanour. Young as I was I had been in a manner taken over from Mr. Deedy, who had been owner as well as editor; forming part of a promiscuous lot, mainly plant and office-furniture, which poor Mrs. Deedy, in her bereavement and depression, parted with at a rough valuation. I could account for my continuity but on the supposition that I had been cheap. I rather resented the practice of fathering all flatness on my late protector, who was in his unhonoured grave; but as I had my way to make I found matter enough for complacency in being on a “staff.” At the same time I was aware of my exposure to suspicion as a product of the old lowering system. This made me feel I was doubly bound to have ideas, and had doubtless been at the bottom of my proposing to Mr. Pinhorn that I should lay my lean hands on Neil Paraday. I remember how he looked at me–quite, to begin with, as if he had never heard of this celebrity, who indeed at that moment was by no means in the centre of the heavens; and even when I had knowingly explained he expressed but little confidence in the demand for any such stuff. When I had reminded him that the great principle on which we were supposed to work was just to create the demand we required, he considered a moment and then returned: “I see–you want to write him up.”

“Call it that if you like.”

“And what’s your inducement?”

“Bless my soul–my admiration!”

Mr. Pinhorn pursed up his mouth. “Is there much to be done with him?”

“Whatever there is we should have it all to ourselves, for he hasn’t been touched.”

This argument was effective and Mr. Pinhorn responded. “Very well, touch him.” Then he added: “But where can you do it?”

“Under the fifth rib!”

Mr. Pinhorn stared. “Where’s that?”

“You want me to go down and see him?” I asked when I had enjoyed his visible search for the obscure suburb I seemed to have named.


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