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The Pension Beaurepas

By James, Henry

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Book Id: WPLBN0000000112
Format Type: PDF eBook
File Size: 0.5 MB
Reproduction Date: 2005
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Title: The Pension Beaurepas  
Author: James, Henry
Language: English
Subject: Literature, Literature & thought, Writing.
Collections: Classic Literature Collection
Publication Date:
Publisher: World Ebook Library


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James, H. (n.d.). The Pension Beaurepas. Retrieved from

I was not rich -- on the contrary; and I had been told the Pension Beaurepas was cheap. I had, moreover, been told that a boarding- house is a capital place for the study of human nature. I had a fancy for a literary career, and a friend of mine had said to me, If you mean to write you ought to go and live in a boarding-house; there is no other such place to pick up material. I had read something of this kind in a letter addressed by Stendhal to his sister: I have a passionate desire to know human nature, and have a great mind to live in a boarding-house, where people cannot conceal their real characters. I was an admirer of La Chartreuse de Parme, and it appeared to me that one could not do better than follow in the footsteps of its author. I remembered, too, the magnificent boarding-house in Balzac's Pere Goriot, the pension bourgeoise des deux sexes et autres, kept by Madame Vauquer, nee De Conflans. Magnificent, I mean, as a piece of portraiture; the establishment, as an establishment, was certainly sordid enough, and I hoped for better things from the Pension Beaurepas. This institution was one of the most esteemed in Geneva, and, standing in a little garden of its own, not far from the lake, had a very homely, comfortable, sociable aspect. The regular entrance was, as one might say, at the back, which looked upon the street, or rather upon a little place, adorned like every place in Geneva, great or small, with a fountain. This fact was not prepossessing, for on crossing the threshold you found yourself more or less in the kitchen, encompassed with culinary odours. This, however, was no great matter, for at the Pension Beaurepas there was no attempt at gentility or at concealment of the domestic machinery. The latter was of a very simple sort. Madame Beaurepas was an excellent little old woman -- she was very far advanced in life, and had been keeping a pension for forty years -- whose only faults were that she was slightly deaf, that she was fond of a surreptitious pinch of snuff, and that, at the age of seventy- three, she wore flowers in her cap. There was a tradition in the house that she was not so deaf as she pretended; that she feigned this infirmity in order to possess herself of the secrets of her lodgers. But I never subscribed to this theory; I am convinced that Madame Beaurepas had outlived the period of indiscreet curiosity. She was a philosopher, on a matter-of-fact basis; she had been having lodgers for forty years, and all that she asked...

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