"The Figure in the Carpet" is a short story published in 1896 in London, by American writer Henry James. The short story is usually referred to as a novella and is told in the first person. The narrator, whose name is never revealed, meets his favorite author and becomes obsessed with discovering the secret meaning or intention within all the author's works.
Heretofore, “The Figure in the Carpet” has evaded definitive interpretation. In his book Henry James (1913), Ford Madox Ford wrote that after the nouvelle was published, James’ contemporaries had set themselves on a quest to locate the Figure as an identifiable physical entity. In the preface to his Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1941), T.S. Eliot wrote, “Nowadays, we all look for the Figure in the Carpet.” Absent a definitive interpretation, it opened new possibilities for the study of ambiguity in literature.
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