The Aspern Papers Chapter 2 Summary and Analysis

Henry James

Chapter 2 Summary and Analysis

The narrator has gained admittance to the palazzo of Juliana Bordereau, presenting his fake calling card to the young, “not ugly,” maid. He is irritated by the call from the window, demanding to know who he is, as a relic of the middle ages. He simply says that he is a traveling American and would like a moment with the mistress of the house. The maid takes his card, leaving him in the downstairs room. He notices the faded furnishings, though he is overtaken by the garden. In the midst of his exclamations, a woman of nondescript age (Juliana Bordereau’s niece, Miss Tina) approaches. He asks her if the garden belongs to the house. Miss Tina replies that it does, though the house does not belong to her. He asks to whom he should speak, for he must have a garden. Miss Tina misunderstands him and begs him not to take the house away from them. He explains that he will be in Venice for the summer and is desperate for lodging. All he needs are two or three rooms, but he would like to have access to the garden, either to work it himself or to hire a gardener for it. Miss Tina is unsure, as they do not know him and she lives alone in the house with her aunt. The narrator pretends to think they are English. When Miss Tina corrects him, he asks if they are American. Miss Tina replies, “I don’t know. We used to be.” She explains that they have lived abroad for so long that they do not seem to be anything now.

Once again the narrator begs to be let some rooms, and especially to have the use of the gardens, since he “must” have flowers, he says. Miss Tina explains that they have never had any lodgers, that they are very poor, and live very frugally. The rooms are bare, she explains, but the narrator says that he can bring some simple furnishings for the summer. He also explains that he can bring a servant to cook for him, assuming that the palazzo has a second kitchen. He continues to gush about his need for...

(The entire section is 844 words.)