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The Wings of the Dove

3.6 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1419188138
ISBN-10: 1419188135
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Editorial Reviews

From AudioFile

James's story of a love triangle in which nobody really wins is brought to life in shortened form in this excellent production. Kate Coy wants the impoverished Merton Densher, but she wants money, too. When dying American heiress Milly Theale enters their orbit, Kate plots to have Merton marry her and eventually inherit her fortune. Prunella Scales's elegant reading is a good match for James's prose. Her delivery of flat American diction and cultured British voices points up the English-American dichotomy in James's work. She makes Kate's Aunt Maude the penultimate upperclass Brit; one misses only the sound of youth in Kate's voice. The abridgment warrants careful listening, and two listenings would be even more rewarding. J.B.G. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

Founded in 1906 by J.M. Dent, the Everyman Library has always tried to make the best books ever written available to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible price. Unique editorial features that help Everyman Paperback Classics stand out from the crowd include: a leading scholar or literary critic's introduction to the text, a biography of the author, a chronology of her or his life and times, a historical selection of criticism, and a concise plot summary. All books published since 1993 have also been completely restyled: all type has been reset, to offer a clarity and ease of reading unique among editions of the classics; a vibrant, full-color cover design now complements these great texts with beautiful contemporary works of art. But the best feature must be Everyman's uniquely low price. Each Everyman title offers these extensive materials at a price that competes with the most inexpensive editions on the market-but Everyman Paperbacks have durable binding, quality paper, and the highest editorial and scholarly standards. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 440 pages
  • Publisher: Kessinger Publishing, LLC (June 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419188135
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419188138
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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