The Wings of the Dove

The Wings of the Dove

Book - 2008
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Kate Croy and her lover scheme to extort money from a naive and trusting American heiress who is dying.
Set amid the splendor of London drawing rooms and gilded Venetian palazzos, The Wings of the Dove is the story of Milly Theale, a n̐ave, doomed American heiress, and a pair of lovers, Kate Croy and Merton Densher, who conspire to obtain her fortune. In this witty tragedy of treachery, self-deception, and betrayal, Henry James weaves together three ill-fated and wholly human destinies unexpectedly linked by desire, greed, and salvation.
Publisher: London : Penguin, 2008
ISBN: 9780141441283
Branch Call Number: FICTION JAMES...H
Characteristics: liii, 554 pages ; 20 cm
Additional Contributors: Bell, Millicent


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" One of the most characteristic traits of James's imagination is to see life in terms of mutually exclusive possibilities and negative alternatives. The typical problem faced by his characters is not so much a choice as a dilemma, in which any decision means some major sacrifice, capitulation,or surrender. For Kate, the dilemma rapidly becomes acute; she has accepted her position, even to the extent of questioning her own right to personal happiness, as the family pawn. at the same time it is only she who can or cares to preserve their collective dignity. To preserve means not to be abject, but not to be abject means in turn ' to prefer an ideal of behaviour--than which nothing ever was more selfish--to the possibility of stray crumbs for the four small creatures.' So that any way she turns, something, and something important, stands to be lost."

athompson10 Nov 22, 2015

This is Henry James at his most allusive and elusive. You have to read 200 pages before you even get five pages of uninterrupted dialogue between characters, and another 200 before anything happens (and this Modern Library version is 700 pages long). Is your patience rewarded? Somewhat, but I can't say that this was an enjoyable read at all.

Jan 20, 2014

As James's matured, his novels became denser and more difficult, favoring deep psychological insight, long, luxurious sentences and a complex, highly nuanced style. None of these elements make for easy reading exactly, but "The Wings of The Dove," often considered one of his greatest books, rewards those who stick with it, even if its 500 pages can exhaust the most intrepid reader. Also see "The Golden Bowl" and "The Ambassadors."


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