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The Wings of the Dove (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – August 31, 2009
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As you step into this book, remember, this is a deep pool. the beauty of the book is that reading it is like reading sculpture.Published 2 months ago by eurydike
Extraordinarily overrated; idiotic and mind-numbing. Some outstanding sentences but, on the whole, - idiotic and mind-numbing. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Vah-keys
One of the major works of The Master. No one can compare with James -- especially for insight into people and beautiful, if very complex, writing. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Chris
Or just revisions by the author. He says something. He says it again. You turn the page and he's saying it again. Usually in very long sentences that don't make a lot of sense. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Iguana
Reading Henry James takes effort. His allusive, complex style (someone once compared it to a hippopotamus trying to pick up a pea) requires constant attention on the part of the... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Kindle Customer
I can best sum up my feeling about this story by saying how happy I was when I pulled the 15th CD out of the package and discovered to my pleasant surprise that it was the last... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Michele
Difficult to read because of the English language that was used at the time the book was written. I wanted to like it, because I saw the movie and liked it very much!Published 12 months ago by Lilia Shut
Encompassing! He paints with language like others a brush...This book requires the readers strictest attention and is well worth ones devotion!!Published 13 months ago by 4dogs