There is a moment in Nathalie Sarraute's Do You Hear Them? (1972) when the father returns to a phrase that he ended, earlier, with an ellipsis, and provides the information that the ellipsis concealed. The story that he tells is interesting to himself but it is not an unspeakable secret; his coy and shy withholding is at least a little pathetic, and it a sign of the anxiety that eventually instructs the other characters to despise him. Here it occurs to me that the mood of sickened dread that I fall into whenever I read Sarraute is close to the feeling I have when I find a true crime website and run through the stories of murders. Consider murder as an activity by which people are made absent. When Louis Marlow, in his memoir of the Powys brothers (Welsh Ambassadors (1936)), decides to explain his friend John Cowper's reasons for eliminating his mother from his autobiography he interprets it as part of the other man's masochism, an aspect of the same self-abasement that made Powys enjoy bad striptease theatre. I was horrified when Marlow introduced the erased mother into the memoir as if she had been a normal person -- it seemed indecent and shameful; he should be ashamed, ashamed, to reveal her shockingly with these ordinary words -- "Mrs. Powys was friendly to me, well disposed; even, in her reserved way, affectionate: chiefly, I thought, because she saw me as shy and subdued."
Mrs. Powys hated success. She hated, with secret intensity, well-constituted people, or even people whose health was too good. When Llewelyn developed consumption and was determined not to die of it, she was far from friendly to his insistent will. She did not like his going to Switzerland, she did not like him having so many windows open. "These young men," she said, "seem to want to live forever."
I reflect that the unspoken gaps in Henry James' fiction seem playful by comparison, lighthearted, clever, even in Turn of the Screw, which, if Sarraute is like true crime, is like a fairytale instead, the characters standing phenomenally like symbols or metaphors inside one of the enclosures that James liked to establish: witness his palazzi, his country houses, the rooms that close in around Isabel Archer, the home that frames Miss Tita when she is transfigured, her beatitude the hidden thing to be witnessed in that story, the true core or whatever, accessible through sacrifice and ritual. "When I look at it my chagrin at the loss of the letters becomes almost intolerable."