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Altar of the Dead, The
by Henry James
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Short story by the prolific American-born author and literary critic of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He spent much of his life in Europe and became a British subject shortly before his death. He is primarily known for novels, novellas and short stories based on themes of consciousness and morality. The Altar of the Dead, first published in James' collection Terminations in 1895 after the story failed of magazine publication, is a fable of literally life and death significance.
HE had a mortal dislike, poor Stransom, to lean anniversaries, and loved them still less when they made a pretence of a figure. Celebrations and suppressions were equally painful to him, and but one of the former found a place in his life. He had kept each year in his own fashion the date of Mary Antrim's death. It would be more to the point perhaps to say that this occasion kept HIM: it kept him at least effectually from doing anything else.
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