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The Golden Bowl (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – December 2, 1999


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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 2, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192835424
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192835420
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,321,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"It is well written, the introduction useful, and the paperback price makes it acceptable for students."--Edna L Steeves, Univ. of Rhode Island


From the Inside Flap

Introduction by Denis Donoghue --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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

The editorial review is misleading, but isn't that so Jamesian?
Patricia Heil
THE GOLDEN BOWL is one among many of James's novels or stories that depict flaws in the human character.
Sue M. Nagamoto
The Golden Bowl is the last, the most demanding, and the most rewarding of James's major novels.
Richard Crowder

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 67 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
By Ilan Mochari

Sandwiched in American literary time between The Scarlet Letter and The Great Gatsby, The Golden Bowl is plainly influenced by the former and an influence on the latter. In all three books, the plot hinges on an act of adultery. More importantly, in all three books, the act of adultery is never explicitly narrated to us. We learn somehow that the infidelity has occurred, and judge the subsequent behavior of characters in light of the infidelity.

There is a tendency in book reviews and literature classes to "boil down" complex works of art into manageable chunks. Suffice it here to say that The Golden Bowl resists reduction marvelously. It's Henry James at his finest, refusing to sugarcoat "love" as an innocent pastime and blessing us with brilliant characters who fully analyze their sophisticated insecurities. Book one (of two) opens with its protagonist, Amerigo, in deep reflection about his imminent marriage to the wealthy Maggie Verver. Why exactly does a rich American beauty who could have whatever man she wants purport to love a penniless, defrocked Italian "Prince?"

Make no mistake: The Golden Bowl is not light reading, and any reader who treats it as such will find him or herself backing up and rereading each sentence to capture what was lost. You can't speed through the book, looking for what "happens." You won't find it. Or at least, Henry James won't tell you straight out. James challenges the reader with the onus of judgment. Is your husband having an affair? Chances are that, rather than ask him straight out, you'll beat around the bush and judge whether he is or not by his behavior.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
How does one choose between Henry James novels? Can one really put the feminine insight of The Portrait of a Lady above the moral conflict of The Wings of the Dove? I loved both those novels, and thought that The Ambassadors was quite good as well. But The Golden Bowl, for me, was another experience altogether.
First of all, I found "Bowl" to be the most difficult of James' novels to read. Actually, it was one of the most difficult books I have ever read, period. One must reread many passages to make sure they have the right meaning because the prose is so austere and almost impenetrable. But, once you get to the conclusion, it's more than worth it. You have to stick with this novel right to the end in order to fully appreciate its brilliance. The characters are realized with an intelligence that is rare to find in literature today, and they are written about in such a wonderfully restrained and subtle way. Don't miss this literary triumph, and please don't shy away from it because it is considered a "classic" or because of your possible misconceptions of Henry James.
Also, I read that it is being developed for an upcoming film version by Merchant Ivory. If that's true, then moviegoers are in for a treat!
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Richard Crowder on July 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
I discovered James in college and read all his full-length novels before reaching age 30. The only one I had real trouble with was The Golden Bowl.
I recently reread the novel and reveled in its elegant complexity. (It would be nice to think that the passage of 20 years has brought wisdom and insight that made me a better reader, but the credit belongs to Dorothea Krook's illuminating discussion in The Ordeal of Consciousness in Henry James.)
The Golden Bowl is the last, the most demanding, and the most rewarding of James's major novels. Even its immediate predecessors, The Ambassadors and The Wings of the Dove, do not reach its deep examination of the mixed motives, the tangled good and evil, that drive human action and passion. Although he presents his characters' acts and much of what goes on in their heads, James manages in such a way that while Krook believes Adam and Maggie are on the side of the angels, Gore Vidal (who introduces the current Penguin edition) believes they are monsters of manipulation--and (as Krook acknowledges) both views are consistent with the evidence.
Much--too much--of these riches of doubt and ambiguity is lost in the Merchant/Ivory/Jhabvala translation to the screen (2001). The movie has some good things, but it could have had many more. Surprised by extraneous material (like the exotic dance), heavy-handed symbolism (the exterior darkness on the day Charlotte and Amerigo find the golden bowl), and needless oversimplifications (Amerigo's talk of "dishonor" to Charlotte, which exaggerates his virtue and his desire to be done with her), I got the sense that nobody involved in the production had read the novel with the care that it requires and rewards. Had they done so, their version could have been really fine--both as a movie and as an invitation to the novel.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R L B on April 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
Reading late James - particularly "The Golden Bowl" - often strikes me as being similar to reading a novel in a foreign language whose vocabulary you have mastered but whose grammar remains partially a mystery. Anyone who has attempted this will recognise the sensation of understanding all the words, yet not understanding how they fit together. You read a sentence two, three or five times, and it is only then that you understand, if at all, the meaning of all the words combined. Sometimes the meaning never becomes clear.

"Late James" is a foreign language, but one in which I have become more fluent over the years. When I first read "The Golden Bowl" some years ago I understood very little and did not enjoy it. The long, convoluted sentences, with so many things only half spoken - and often never spoken at all - seemed a vast and elaborate machine which never seemed to produce enough to justify its own existence.

Yet now, having read most of James over the intervening years, I have become more fluent in his language, and find the circumlocutions, complexities and ellipses of the "late style", if not exactly crystal clear, then certainly much clearer, and even rather comforting and enjoyable. The subtle discriminations, the way James holds up to the light tenuous motives and turns them slowly - very slowly - so that their hidden facets become, fleetingly, visible; the very real portrayal of interesting characters that James reveals; as well as the languorous, unpredictable turns of a Jamesian sentence - all offer the kinds of pleasures that no other writer (possibly excepting Proust) is able to produce.

"The Golden Bowl" consists largely of conversations, some continuing over many, many pages.
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