Experience is never limited and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every air-borne particle in its tissue.
For the past 25 years, Henry James has ranked as America's top writer, beating out giants like Faulkner, T. S. Eliot and Melville in terms of volume of literary scholarship devoted to an author's works. Renowned for their psychological realism, lapidary prose, and, at times, their opacity, the novels of Henry James – including "The Portrait of a Lady," "The Bostonians," "The Wings of the Dove," "The Ambassadors," and "The Golden Bowl," – serve as an exponent to the inner lives of those inhabiting the upper echelons of 19th century American society. They painstakingly attend to such themes as the cost and frangibility of personal freedom, the crosscurrents of passion, the vicissitudes of adolescence and matrimony, and the consequential encounters between naïve Americans and corrupt, worldly Europeans. To celebrate what would have been James's 169th birthday, here are some favorite quotes from the master.