Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Henry or William James quote ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Henry or William James quote
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Books and Literature
Asked by: gary1-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 03 Aug 2003 20:27 PDT
Expires: 02 Sep 2003 20:27 PDT
Question ID: 238710
There is a quote from either Henry James (or William James) that was in
the front of Travens, "The Death Ship." It talked about the fact that
people of  little worth were in high places and those of great worth
often in low places, but that we must face this reality, waking up to
it day after day. It is beautiful prose and a serene twist on the
inevitable inequities and difficulties of the real world. I would
appreciate any clue or the entire quote. The  later editions of The 
Death Ship do not have that quote and I have lost the early edition.
Subject: Re: Henry or William James quote
Answered By: luciaphile-ga on 04 Aug 2003 11:37 PDT
Hi gary1-ga,

Thanks for your question. I've found the exact wording of the quote
that was in the "The Death Ship," but what I've found attributes the
quote to another work by Traven, not to either of the James brothers.
The epigraph in fact comes from his “The Treasure of the Sierra
Madre.” Here is the quote:

“The treasure which you think not worth taking trouble and pains to
find, this alone is the real treasure you are longing for all your
life. The glittering treasure you are hunting for day and night lies
buried on the other side of that hill yonder.”

This web site puts the quote as being 

“The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” by B. Traven, New York: Hill and
Wang 1967, p. 1.

“The Treasure of the Sierra Madre: An American Grail.”

And another site corroborating this:

Huichol Indians of Mexico The Real Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Google search:
Travens “death ship”
Traven “death ship” epigraph
Traven “death ship” epigraph james

I hope this answers your question. If you require additional
information or if the links do not open properly, please ask for
clarification before rating my answer and I’ll be happy to assist you.


Request for Answer Clarification by gary1-ga on 04 Aug 2003 19:28 PDT
Dear luciaphile-ga,

Thank you for your research. I love the quote from Traven. It is not
the quote I had in mind, however, which was definitely by one of the
James brothers, I'm pretty sure it was Henry. I will follow your
Google search strategy in hopes of finding the quote. By the way, the
other quote in the Death Ship epigraph page was from Paul Valerie and
it's a beauty: "Le Dieu a fait tout de rien, mais le rien perce." [God
made everything out of nothing, but the nothing shows through].

Clarification of Answer by luciaphile-ga on 05 Aug 2003 05:57 PDT
Hi gary1-ga,

I'm sorry this was not the quote you were looking for. I will keep
working on your question and see what else I can turn up.


Clarification of Answer by luciaphile-ga on 08 Aug 2003 15:25 PDT
Just wanted to let you know that I am still working on this. I have a
very solid lead, but since it's a print source, it may take me a
couple of days to locate it for you. Thanks for your patience.


Clarification of Answer by luciaphile-ga on 08 Sep 2003 14:39 PDT
I have searched multiple editions of "The Death Ship" beginning with
the first one

"The Death Ship :The Story of an American Sailor," by B. Travens. New
York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1934

and the only epigraph that appears in the book that I've found is this

Song of an American Sailor
Now stop that crying, honey dear,
The Jackson Square remains still here
In sunny New Orleans
In lovely Louisiana.
She thinks me buried in the sea, 
No longer does she wait for me
In sunny New Orleans
In lovely Louisiana.
The death ship is it I am in, 
All I have lost, nothing to win
So far off sunny New Orleans
So far off lovely Louisiana"

I'm unclear on how to proceed at this point. I don't feel that I've
adequately answered your question and I apologize. I can try and have
my answer withdrawn, or if you can give me any idea as to which
edition of "The Death Ship" this could have been in, I'll see if I can
run it to earth. Let me know.


Request for Answer Clarification by gary1-ga on 08 Sep 2003 21:51 PDT
Dear luciaphile-ga,

Request for Answer Clarification by gary1-ga on 08 Sep 2003 21:55 PDT
Dear luciaphile-ga,
   I am most appreciative of your work and of the epigraphs you have
retrieved. The edition I had that had the two epigraphs, one by one of
the James brothers, and the other by Paul Valerie, was a paperback,
and it was probably printed at least twenty years ago, possibly in 
the 60's. It was not a reproduction but an actual printing with, as I
remember it, a black and white drawing on the cover of a ship and a
death's head in addition to the title.

Clarification of Answer by luciaphile-ga on 09 Sep 2003 05:35 PDT
Thanks, I'll see what else I can find out for you.

Clarification of Answer by luciaphile-ga on 09 Sep 2003 16:25 PDT
Hi gary1-ga,

I may have located the edition in question. It is a paperback. The
cover is rather striking featuring a ship all in white. The bow (front
part of the ship) is shaped like a skull, with eyeholes, nose, and
teeth where the bow meets the water. The edition is from 1962.

Unfortunately, the epigraphs remain the same. 

I did find epigraphs before the second and third books. I realize they
have nothing to do with the quote in question, but thought you might
find them of interest. They are as follows (spacing identical to the

The Second Book
over the crew's quarters
of the death ship

Who enters here
Will no longer have existence;
His name and soul have vanished
And are gone for ever.
Of him there is not left a breath
In all the vast world.
He can never return.
Nor can he ever go onward;
For where he stands there he must stay.
No God knows him:
And unknown will he be in hell.
He is not day; he is not night.
he is Nothing and Never.
He is too great for infinity,
Too small for a grain of sand,
Which, however small,
Has its place in the universe.
He is what has never been 
And never thought."

The Third Book
"An old love-song 
of an experienced sailor

There are so many ships on sea,
Some do come and some do flee;
Yet none can be so dreadful low
That none is found still further so."

"The Death Ship: the Story of an American Sailor," by B. Traven. New
York: Collier Books, 1962.

I have also searched some German editions as well as the 1934, 1959,
1962, 1973, 1991 editions.

There are no comments at this time.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy