The Wings of the Dove: (Starbooks Classics Editions)

The Wings of the Dove: (Starbooks Classics Editions)

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by Henry James, Emily Lam
     
 

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The Wings of the Dove is a 1902 novel by Henry James. This novel tells the story of Milly Theale, an American heiress stricken with a serious disease, and her effect on the people around her. Some of these people befriend Milly with honorable motives, while others are more self-interested.

Literary significance and criticism

The Wings of the Dove has one of the

Overview

The Wings of the Dove is a 1902 novel by Henry James. This novel tells the story of Milly Theale, an American heiress stricken with a serious disease, and her effect on the people around her. Some of these people befriend Milly with honorable motives, while others are more self-interested.

Literary significance and criticism

The Wings of the Dove has one of the strongest critical positions of any of James' works, although James himself sometimes expressed dissatisfaction with it. In his preface to the New York Edition, James spent much time confessing to supposed faults in the novel: defective structure, characters not as well presented as they could be, and a general failure to realize his initial plan for the book.

By and large, critics have regarded these faults as venial or nonexistent. Instead, they've concentrated on the central characters and supporting cast, and the technique that James uses in their presentation.

In 1998, the Modern Library ranked The Wings of the Dove 26th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781497343740
Publisher:
CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
03/14/2014
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.58(d)

Meet the Author

Henry James, OM (15 April 1843 - 28 February 1916) was an American writer who spent the bulk of his career in Britain. He is regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. He was the son of Henry James, Sr. and the brother of philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James.

James alternated between America and Europe for the first 20 years of his life, after which he settled in England, becoming a British subject in 1915, one year before his death. He is best known for a number of novels showing Americans encountering Europe and Europeans. His method of writing from the point of view of a character within a tale allows him to explore issues related to consciousness and perception, and his style in later works has been compared to impressionist painting.

James contributed significantly to literary criticism, particularly in his insistence that writers be allowed the greatest possible freedom in presenting their view of the world. James claimed that a text must first and foremost be realistic and contain a representation of life that is recognisable to its readers. Good novels, to James, show life in action and are, most importantly, interesting. His imaginative use of point of view, interior monologue and possibly unreliable narrators in his own novels and tales brought a new depth and interest to narrative fiction. An extraordinarily productive writer, in addition to his voluminous works of fiction he published articles and books of travel, biography, autobiography, and criticism, and wrote plays, some of which were performed during his lifetime, though with limited success. His theatrical work is thought to have profoundly influenced his later novels and tales.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
April 15, 1843
Date of Death:
February 28, 1916
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
Place of Death:
London, England
Education:
Attended school in France and Switzerland; Harvard Law School, 1862-63

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Wings of the Dove (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 82 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For any english major who loves American literature, or anyone who loves to read period, this is one of those complex books that one cannot forget. Period. James is not an easy writer to follow, nor is he a writer that can be read only once because the psychological subtexts in which his characters deal with are quite complex because of his long-winded sentences. However, it is truly a rich and rewarding experience once the codes have been cracked. Milly Theale from 'The Wings of the Dove' is one of the most unforgettable characters in fiction. Her story will truly resonate and make the reader tremble with hatred and pathos. The 1997 film with Helena Bonham Carter and Linus Roache is equally well-done. But James is James. Period. Exquisite and complex!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I very recently read Colm Toibin's masterful book, THE MASTER, a novel of Henry James and that fueled my desire to reread some of my favorite James works. THE WINGS OF THE DOVE is, I think, my second favorite James book, coming in only a smidgen behind THE GOLDEN BOWL. I reread most of THE WINGS OF THE DOVE on a long flight from Lima, Peru to Madrid, Spain, then finished it on a much shorter flight from Madrid to Nice (with a change of planes in Paris). Even with all that traveling, I was still mesmerized by James' elegant and formal prose and the way he has of folding a sentence back on itself and then folding it yet again. James' stylized prose has been a favorite of mine since my teenaged years. I can't get enough of it and doubt I ever will. THE WINGS OF THE DOVE opens around the year 1900 in London and focuses on Kate Croy, who, shortly after the death of her mother, goes to live with her very wealthy Aunt Maud. Aunt Maud, of course, will do the 'right' thing for Kate and marry her off to a very socially acceptable and wealthy young man, Lord Mark. If love enters into the picture, fine. If it doesn't, that is equally fine and Kate should be grateful and manage as best she can. There is one huge problem, however. Kate is very much in love with the journalist, Merton Densher, a man with little money and no social status and, as such, totally unsuitable to Aunt Maud. When Aunt Maud threatens to disinherit Kate, Kate thinks she's come up with the perfect solution. Like many perfect solutions, however, this one goes terribly awry. Milly Theale is a wealthy, young American woman who has come to Europe because she is seriously, even fatally, ill. In Europe, Milly hopes to find a 'cure' for her disease. Kate befriends Milly and introduces her to Densher. When all three take a holiday to Venice, it is Kate who, without Densher's knowledge or blessing, suggests that Milly charm her way into Densher's heart. Kate, of course, is hoping that Milly will die sooner rather than later and that she and Densher will then be free to marry each other and be the beneficiaries of Milly considerable wealth. But a few things happen that Kate didn't count on. James was nothing if not the master of complex characters. Although he presents the character of Kate Croy in a very harsh light, she isn't completely without redeeming qualities. Either is Densher. And Milly isn't quite as gullible as one might initially expect. All of this complexity, of course, simply adds to the richness of this already rich and complex novel. Unlike many, I don't think Henry James, in general, or THE WINGS OF THE DOVE, in particular, is a particularly 'difficult' read and English is my third language, not my first. His sentences are long and convoluted and his paragraphs run for pages, but this doesn't make him 'difficult,' it only means that you can't speed read your way through one of James' books. And who, in their right mind, would want to speed read through James anyway? His writing is so rich, so insightful, so elegant, that it's writing to be savored, not hurried through. James is slow-paced. This is something I really enjoy about his writing, but others might want a faster, crisper read. If you're a rabid fan if Hemingway (I'm not), you probably won't like James. If, on the other hand, you admire Faulkner's prose, you just might like James' equally as well. If you decide to begin THE WINGS OF THE DOVE and fine it simply too slow going for your taste, I would suggest renting the film. It is slightly different from the book, but not in any substantive way and it's better than not experiencing James at all. THE WINGS OF THE DOVE is one of my all time favorite books. I would recommend it highly to everyone who loves highly intelligent, highly literary writing and who can tolerate a slow-paced novel. Believe me, the payoffs will certainly be worth it.
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