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The Wings of the Dove [Paperback]

Henry James
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 17, 2004 1419188135 978-1419188138
This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.

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The Wings of the Dove + The Golden Bowl (Oxford World's Classics)
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Wings of the Dove is a classic example of Henry James's morality tales that play off the naiveté of an American protagonist abroad. In early-20th-century London, Kate Croy and Merton Densher are engaged in a passionate, clandestine love affair. Croy is desperately in love with Densher, who has all the qualities of a potentially excellent husband: he's handsome, witty, and idealistic--the one thing he lacks is money, which ultimately renders him unsuitable as a mate. By chance, Croy befriends a young American heiress, Milly Theale. When Croy discovers that Theale suffers from a mysterious and fatal malady, she hatches a plan that can give all three characters something that they want--at a price. Croy and Densher plan to accompany the young woman to Venice where Densher, according to Croy's design, will seduce the ailing heiress. The two hope that Theale will find love and happiness in her last days and--when she dies--will leave her fortune to Densher, so that he and Croy can live happily ever after. The scheme that at first develops as planned begins to founder when Theale discovers the pair's true motives shortly before her death. Densher struggles with unanticipated feelings of love for his new paramour, and his guilt may obstruct his ability to avail himself of Theale's gift. James deftly navigates the complexities and irony of such moral treachery in this stirring novel. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

The Wings of the Dove represents the pinnacle of James’s prose.”—Louis Auchincloss


From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 440 pages
  • Publisher: Kessinger Publishing, LLC (June 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419188135
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419188138
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7.5 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Old-Fashioned Genius May 21, 2003
Format:Paperback
Two responses to previous reviews: it was written one hundred years ago, so it would of course be somewhat dated. Second, you should perhaps READ THE ENTIRE BOOK before you attempt to review the text.
The text follows the fascinating development of a manipulation: Milly Theale, an American woman, enters the London scene, endowed with prodigious wealth, youth, and beauty, and several characters vie for her affection. It's a standard James plot in that way. Much like Portrait of a Lady, the wealthy American is exploited by her European acquaintances. Kate Croy convinces her lover Merton Densher to take advantage of Milly's interest in him, and to go so far as to attempt to marry the young American for her money. She is, after all, fatally and tragically ill. James brilliantly depicts the struggle between Densher, Kate Croy, her powerful Aunt Maud, the piquant Susan Shepherd, Sir Luke, and Lord Mark, and his characteristically enigmatic ending does not disappoint. James manages to breathe life into these odd characters in a way that so few writers can: his genius is for complex character, and this book embodies that genius at its height.
The trouble with the book, however, is that it does not qualify as a "light read." The pace is incredibly slow - deliberately slow, of course. It is a novel about decisions, and the development of those decisions constitutes the bulk of the novel. James's prose does lack the terseness of a Hemingway, but the latter writer often fails to capture the nuances that James so elaborately evokes in his careful prose.
James, like Faulkner, is not for the faint of heart.
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She waited, Kate Croy... August 22, 2010
Format:Paperback
The Wings of the Dove, on Amazon, has an absurdly low rating, much like most of James's other novels. To all readers seriously interested in purchasing a James novel for the first time, I urge you not to be frightened by all the reviews that say something like, "exhausting," "overrated," "flaccid," "unbearable," and so on. It's the eternal critique of James; the readers who find James "unbearable" are simply not meant to read James. They will forever bear a grudge against him, and we can do nothing about that.

If you're approaching James for the first time, know that "The Ambassadors," "The Wings of the Dove," and "The Golden Bowl," often referred to as the novels of his "Major" (late) phase, are his greatest works, but the style of these novels, while full of rewards, is challenging. There's no doubt about that. Use Amazon's "look inside" feature and read a few pages; if you're intrigued, by all means, buy the book. If you're turned off, don't buy the book, at least right now. If you're mystified but still interested, consider reading the books in a different order.

It may be a bad idea to start off your reading of James with "The Wings of the Dove" or "The Golden Bowl." These are works of an artistic genius who has been meditating on some of the same themes, ethical dilemmas, situations, and the representation of changing consciousness for a lifetime. As such, they are prose texts of great complexity, and readers need to expect that a novel written by a reader, writer and thinker of age 60 is rather different from the product of a man of age 35 or 40. Age often brings complexity: by the time we come to W.B. Yeats's last poems, for example, we are simply expected to know a few things about Yeats: Maud Gonne, say, some of his key symbols and poetic forms.
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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The novel could never be the same again. April 23, 2002
Format:Paperback
The title is a Jamesian euphemism for 'Pulling The Wings Off Flies'. In a book that is a vortex of ironies, the most fundamental is that a novel written at the highest pitch of literary sophistication, full of high-minded exchanges and a character repeatedly compared to an angel, is really about the body, one dying, the other brimming with sexual attraction and desire (for money, status and sex). Kate Croy, impoverished with a disgraced father, is in love with Merton Densher, an impoverished journalist. Her wealthy aunt, Maud Lowder, offers to take her in, provide all the advantages of wealth and groom her for the marriage market, on the condition she abandons both her family and her marriage plans with Densher. Genuinely passionate for Densher, but reluctant to return to the degradations of comparative poverty, Kate has an idea. When she meets the dying American heiress Milly Theale, who coincidentally made the acquaintance of Densher in New York on a newspaper trip, Kate propses her fiance make love to her and so become a beneficiary in her imminent will, freeing the two lovers to get married.
Among the most difficult books in the English language, 'The Wings Of The Dove' is one of the three late novels in which James pushed the novel to a stylistic and intellectual limit, but which many readers have found awkward to read. The difficulty doesn't lie in the verbal extrvagance of a Joyce or the dictionary-defiance of a Pynchon - the individual words in these novels are familiar and accessible. It's what James does with them, the lengthy, elaborate sentences distended by clauses and sub-clauses, and compounded by a narration that emphasises qualification, euphemism, ellipis and ambivalence.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good
Published 3 days ago by Radmila Jevicki
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a quick and easy read, but interesting
Unique story and well written. Not a quick and easy read, but interesting. I just have issues with the way that Henry James ENDS his books--very unsatisfactorily! Read more
Published 6 days ago by RGmom2five
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Never read Henry James before. Won't be reading him again. Very sexist. I know this work was written a hundred years ago, but the plot was weak and the story was boring.
Published 22 days ago by Sherrie Capraro
5.0 out of 5 stars "So many words"
In the, in my opinion, not so great film Amadeus, there is an outstanding and memorable line. I shall attempt to paraphrase it. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Film is more than entertainment
2.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to read
So tedious to read, I lose concentration and cannot finish it inspite of several attemts to do so. Too long descriptions.
Published 3 months ago by Anita Alcasabas
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected and breathtaking
What strikes me about Wings of the Dove is how much of it is expository writing, though the half that is dialogue is inspired. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mark Schaeffer
1.0 out of 5 stars Too much description
Language to hard to read and to descriptive. Couldn't read it. That's all I have to say. Didn't like it.
Published 4 months ago by Barbara Garrow
2.0 out of 5 stars The wings of the Dove
I didn't finish it and I think I deleted it from my Library. The language was so ponderous . I guess I don't have the intellect to appreciate James or I was born in the wrong... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Jean E. Peterson
1.0 out of 5 stars Last line missing
My wife had a library copy of this book. We had opposite takes on the significance of the ending. It turned out that my copy omitted the final line, which totally changed the... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Richard Castellana
2.0 out of 5 stars Yawn
Quit this book. Snoozer. da fd ad fa ds adf das f aerfawerfasdf df asd dfasf dfasd asdf asdf adsfasdf fasdff as
Published 18 months ago by David Palmeri
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