Henry James: Novels 1901-1902 (LOA #162): The Sacred Fount / The Wings of the Dove

Henry James: Novels 1901-1902 (LOA #162): The Sacred Fount / The Wings of the Dove


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This Library of America volume brings together one of Henry James’s most unusual experiments and one of his most beloved masterpieces

Writing to his friend William Dean Howells, Henry James characterized his experimental novel, The Sacred Fount, as the only one of his novels to be told in the first person, as “a fine flight into the high fantastic.” While traveling to the country house of Newmarch for a weekend party, the nameless narrator becomes obsessed with the idea that a person may become younger or cleverer by tapping the “sacred fount” of another person. Convinced that Grace Brissenden has become younger by drawing upon her husband, Guy, the narrator seeks to discover the source of the newfound wit of Gilbert Long, previously “a fine piece of human furniture.” His perplexing and ambiguous quest, and the varying reactions it provokes from the other guests, calls into question the imaginative inquiry central to James’s art of the novel.

James described the essential idea of The Wings of the Dove as “a young person conscious of a great capacity for life, but early stricken and doomed, condemned to die under short respite, while also enamoured of the world.” The heroine, a wealthy young American heiress, Milly Theale (inspired by James’s beloved cousin Minny Temple), is slowly drawn into a trap set for her by the English adventuress Kate Croy and her lover, the journalist Morton Densher. The unexpected outcome of their mercenary scheme provides the resolution to a tragic story of love and betrayal, innocence and experience that has long been acknowledged as one of James’s supreme achievements as a novelist. This volume prints the New York Edition text of The Wings of the Dove, and includes the illuminating preface James wrote for that edition.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781931082884
Publisher: Library of America
Publication date: 02/02/2006
Series: Library of America Complete Novels of Henry James , #5
Pages: 713
Sales rank: 1,066,598
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 8.15(h) x 1.15(d)

About the Author

Henry James (1843-1916), born in New York City, was the son of noted religious philosopher Henry James, Sr., and brother of eminent psychologist and philosopher William James. He spent his early life in America and studied in Geneva, London and Paris during his adolescence to gain the worldly experience so prized by his father. He lived in Newport, went briefly to Harvard Law School, and in 1864 began to contribute both criticism and tales to magazines. He went on to publish beloved novels such as Daisy Miller (1878), Washington Square (1880), The Portrait of a Lady (1881), The Princess Casamassima (1886), and The Turn of the Screw (1898), in addition to three large novels of the new century, The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903) and The Golden Bowl (1904).

Leo Bersani, volume editor, is professor emeritus of French at the University of California, Berkeley. His works include Marcel Proust: The Fictions of Life and of Art; A Future for Astyanax: Character and Desire in Literature; The Culture of Redemption; and Homos.

Date of Birth:

April 15, 1843

Date of Death:

February 28, 1916

Place of Birth:

New York, New York

Place of Death:

London, England


Attended school in France and Switzerland; Harvard Law School, 1862-63

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