The aspern papers”, written by henry james (1888) follows a keen antiquitarian around the canals of venice, in search of a set of intimate letters written by the great poet. the narrator finds himself befriending a frail old woman and her daughter in order to gain access to the house and furniture that hold these elusive papers. by the end, we are taught the perils of an overfamiliarity with an object of desire, leading to the eventual burning of the papers by the daughter after she discovers how he has treated her and her mothers intimacy. throughout the tale, the narrators journey around venice is interchanged and merged with his journey around the locked furniture and coridoors of the house he is lodging in. james used this mix of scales to imply a haptic, distracted perception of the city of venice, comparing it to a city where streets are coridoors, building is furniture, details are clasps and the routes are infitite.
“With its little winding ways where people crowd together, Where voices sound as in the coridoors of a house, Where the human step circulates as if it skirted the angles of furniture,
And shoes never wear out”
the model is a culmination of a drunken walk around the streets of venice in the pursuit of getting lost. the haptic journey, seemingly impossible to make out from the city fabric is in turn perfectly clear, when the details and loci used to plot the journey are seen in isolation.