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Daisy Miller (Penguin Classics) Paperback – December 18, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The critical faculty hesitates before the magnitude of Mr. Henry James’s work.”—Joseph Conrad

From the Inside Flap

Originally published in The Cornhill Magazine in 1878 and in book form in 1879, Daisy Miller brought Henry James his first widespread commercial and critical success. The young Daisy Miller, an American on holiday with her mother on the shores of Switzerland?s Lac Leman, is one of James?s most vivid and tragic characters. Daisy?s friendship with an American gentleman, Mr. Winterbourne, and her subsequent infatuation with a passionate but impoverished Italian bring to life the great Jamesian themes of Americans abroad, innocence versus experience, and the grip of fate. As Elizabeth Hardwick writes in her Introduction, Daisy Miller ?lives on, a figure out of literature who has entered history as a name, a vision.? --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (December 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141441348
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141441344
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Henry James (1843-1916), the son of the religious philosopher Henry James Sr. and brother of the psychologist and philosopher William James, published many important novels including Daisy Miller, The Wings of the Dove, The Golden Bowl, and The Ambassadors.

Customer Reviews

That's the brilliance of James at work.
Donald Mitchell
When it comes to a serious commitment like marriage, it is necessary to acknowledge how one really is, not delude oneself about how one ought to be.
Elizabeth A. Root
I read this book for an English report that I had to do, and I found it quite interesting.
Shannon Carlisle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
One of Henry James's earliest novellas, Daisy Miller (1878) follows the activities of a wealthy, and brashly confident, young American woman as she audaciously challenges European society in Vevey, Switzerland, and in Rome, having fun, doing what pleases her, and leaving staid European society gasping in her wake. Daisy Miller, whose father is in the US and whose mother is her ineffectual "chaperone," is a free spirit in a society bound by unstated but rigid "rules," determined to do whatever she wants, whenever she wants, with whomever she chooses.

Frederick Winterbourne, an expatriate who has spent most of his life in Geneva, is attracted to Daisy, but his bonds with his stuffy aunt, Mrs. Cosgrove, and her friend, Mrs. Walker, both of whom govern ex-patriot society in Europe, leave him ill-equipped to deal with Daisy's flouting of society's conventions. When she is obviously attracted to Mr. Giovanelli, a singer/musician of no social standing, and when she is seen with him publicly in places that a "nice" girl would not grace at night, her reputation is threatened, and anyone associated with her is tainted. Winterbourne is uncertain how to protect her, while, not incidentally, protecting his own reputation.

Developing his most famous theme, James considers the conflicts between American and European values and the naivete of the Americans and their spontaneity as it contrasts with the old world formality of the Europeans. Daisy, who is often foolishly naïve, is also seen as brash and ego-centric, a young woman whose destiny cannot be avoided (or even predicted) because of the strength of her own, often wrong, willfulness.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Savannah on March 17, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Daisy Miller is everything a woman of that era should not be: flighty, flirtatious and strong-willed. I enjoyed this novella because you so infrequently see a lead female character of that era portrayed in quite such an unflattering light. While the plot is simple there are a few twists and turns. This is an interesting, fun read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Helena on February 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
This short novella is a brief story about a young american woman who travels Europe with her mother and young brother. Thru a chance she meets young British gentleman Winterbourne who is smitten by her beauty, but also amazed by her innocence and lack of restraint. Daisy comes from a rich family and from a world where she is permitted to be herself no matter what the price of her individuality may be. But she is also eager to make company in a new world and gain access to society. She craves entertainment, attention and stimulating company. What she is not realizing is the fact she is going about it the wrong way. Story is set in Europe, small town Vivey in Switzerland and Rome, Italy. As Daisy's young life unfold and ends tragically, one cannot but think that in either case there was no happy ending here. Her behaviour and galant carelessness were ticket to doom. Definitely fine story about class difference, cultural difference and tale that money cannot buy everything. One has to find subtle ways to get what she wants out of life.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By aloners on June 29, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Originally published in book form in 1879, "Daisy Miller" brought Henry James his first widespread commercial and critical success. The young Daisy Miller, an American on holiday with her mother in Europe, is one of James' most vivid and tragic characters. Daisy's friendship with an American gentleman, Mr Winterbourne, and her subsequent infatuation with a passionate but impoverished Italian, bring to life the great Jamesian themes of Americans abroad, innocence versus experience, and the grip of fate.
This story emphasizes an upper-class expatriate's efforts to understand and deal with a charming, independent but uninformed heroine who posses a strong challenge to conservative manners. In the end the story's emphasis is not so much on social portraiture as on the tragic effects of class distinction. When Winterbourne learns that Daisy was after all completely "innocent", he understands his serious mistake in going along with the other Americans who blackball her. Like the ancient Roman spectators in the Colosseum, Winterbourne has participated in a human sacrifice. While Winterbourne worries over the morality of the young American woman, it is his own behaviour that constitutes immorality. He is committing an unpardonable sin in his overly intellectualized searching out of the moral fault of another.
As in other tales, James makes direct contact with the mythic materials of Judeo-Christian culture equally to gloss his sense of evil and measure its fate in the modern world. The narrative in "Daisy" can be understood as a commentary on a culture in which gossip has replaced the gospel.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By darragh o'donoghue on March 14, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Read heading a collection of James short stories, 'Daisy' is a delight, with a classically clear narrative, beautifully direct prose (especially if you've come from the late novels!), a charming heroine, and a sublime balancing act between unexpected comedy (the great Randolph C. Miller!) and the most horrifying tragedy.
Puffed up as a 'novella', however, with an introduction (Geoffrey Moore) almost as long, and copious notes (Patricia Crick), and the poor girl is left a little exposed. Maybe my feeling of relative disappointment, having fallen in love over ten years ago, was due to this infuriating critical apparatus, the introduction patronising James, the notes condescending to the reader.
What strikes me now as the work's brilliance is not the concise treatment of the America/Europe, man/woman, appearance/reality, Geneva/Rome dialectic that so obsessed James; or even the astonishing achievement of the narration, somehow distancing and conflating the narrator and his silly hero. What is especially striking is the visual quality, the minutely composed tableaux - now Gothic, now impressionistic, now sharply lucid - as an abortive love affair is played out on the placid shores of Lake Geneva, the rondelay of the Pincio Gardens, or the ruins of ancient Rome, malaria poisoning the air on its way to Venice and Thomas Mann.
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