Enwrapped in indescribable mysteriousness, ‘The Figure in the Carpet’ (1896) is a short story by the American-born British writer Henry James. It explores the meaning of art and how it is found in what other people see.
Hugh Vereker is a famous author who says the secret to his greatness and skill is hidden in his works ‘like a complex figure in a Persian carpet’. When the narrator of the story meets Vereker, he becomes obsessed with discovering the secret meaning of his favourite author's works.
Those who enjoy Henry James' short story will likely find ´Eureka´ by Anthony Quinn interesting as The Figure is an important part of the plot.
Henry James (1843-1916) was an American-born, British author, and one of the founders of the school of realism in fiction. His inventive use of interior monologues and unreliable narrators, brought a complexity and depth to his work that made him hugely popular.
A prolific writer, he published numerous novels, articles, travel books, biographies and plays. Many of his stories have been adapted for TV and film, such as ‘What Maisie Knew’ (2012) starring Steve Coogan and Julianne Moore.
However, it is his celebrated Gothic novella ‘The Turn of the Screw’ (1898), regarded as one of the greatest ghost stories ever written, that has been adapted more than any other. Most recently, the eponymous 2009 BBC TV series starring Michelle Dockery, and the Netflix series, ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ (2020).
James was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911, 1912, and 1916.