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Kate, Milly, and Merton. In addition to a masterful play of dramatic ironies, in which there is ever the floating question-mark of "who knows what? Merton Densher remains for me one of the most intriguing and frustrating characters in the Jamesian universe. Like his counterpart, Kate, he too hearkens us to Shakespeare's Macbeth in his initial moral reticence, rash complicity, and ultimately trapped feeling of remorse for his transgressions against the innocent and doting Milly.

Unlike Macbeth though undeserving of a comparison to Hamlet , his great flaw is not haste but hesitation: He had thought, no doubt, from the day he was born, much more than he had acted; except indeed that he remembered thoughts--a few of them--which at the moment of their coming to him had thrilled him almost like adventures.

But anything like his actual state he had not, as to the prohibition of impulse, accident, range--the prohibition in other words of freedom--hitherto known. What Densher lacks is Macbeth's horrible boldness to follow through, he only half commits and so is at one time less of a villain than Macbeth, but as morally outrageous and self-emasculating.

In a book which is overwhelmingly about the illusion of gender, Merton is the only significant male figure, while significantly lacking in conventional masculinity - a trait which is made up for in his stronger half, Kate. The almost epicene quality of Densher is perhaps partially a result of his consort, which is described as a "circle of petticoats.

Merton's over-reliance on consideration, and his moral hesitations bring in to question his love for Kate. Does he love her, or does he simply envy her stirring temerity? Left alone with Milly, he is drawn to her subtle bravery and unnatural kindness and generosity - something which he lacks in his life with Kate, but perhaps he is also drawn to her fragility.

Milly is the only character who despite her moving strength in character, is reliant on the physical aid of others. Merton's perverted views of love leave the reader unsure of him. He seems to us hopelessly lost. Milly's death brings upon Merton a Jamesian epiphany: He is aware of the spoiled happiness he may look forward to married to Kate, he is left aware, not of what he has to gain through Kate, but what he has lost in losing Milly.

The moral descent of Kate coincides with the moral ascension of Merton: The ending is perhaps one of the most moving I have read, with such a poignancy and fullness of emotion it is shocking: I could in your place; and you're one for whom it will do. Her memory's your love. You want no other. Then he only said: We hope not, but we are not left with the knowing petit mort which we feel at the close of The Portrait of a Lady , the conclusion is not forgone, there is time to redeem what one has left of life.

Collecting The Wings Of the Dove by James, Henry - First edition identification guide

The novel what actually written after The Ambassadors , though publishing circumstances delayed the later book's publication, and the ending is reflective of the solemnity of "the life unlived" of Lambert Strether. It is the openness of the ending which sets it apart from some of James's other works. We are saddened to see the dissolution of love, but we question whether what Densher and Kate felt for each other was truly love at all.

Kate's love for her father, which seems to transcend situation, is starkly juxtaposed to her love for Merton which seems so dependent on his situation. While Kate descends in our moral estimation of her, it seems that by the end of the novel she reaches her own epiphany, it seems she has learned love from Milly, a thing which before had eluded her.

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So we are left reservedly heartbroken at the end, for Kate, but also reservedly happy. The friendship of Milly ameliorates both Kate and Densher: But she changes them completely: View all 3 comments. This is an extermely rewarding book, though James makes the reader work for it, to be sure.

But allowing for all that, this is nonetheless a masterpiece, a character AND plot-driven story that touches on the tautest of emotional nerves. In other words, James repays the reader for his efforts in multiples. I read a really enticing review of this, got all excited, drove across three suburbs and two villages to get to the library where it was mouldering on the shelf, got it home, opened the first page, and then I remembered. Friends don't let friends read Henry James. If you're thinking about reading this, then be warned. The sentences are constructed like algebraic equations, with nested parenthesis within nested parenthesis within nested parenthesis.

It gets to the point you feel that, Nope, sorry.

The Wings of the Dove

It gets to the point you feel that, like the constipated mathematician, you have to work it out with a pencil. First sentence She waited, Kate Croy, for her father to come in, but he kept her unconscionably, and there were moments at which she showed herself, in the glass over the mantel, a face positively pale with the irritation that had brought her to the point of going away without sight of him. Life is too short to read books that are built like a set of babushka dolls.

I'm actually going to set up a new shelf: This is the first book on that shelf. Henry James has beautiful people inside of his head, if only his verbal diarrhea didn't get in the way. Dear Jesus, I wish he knew how to write a short sentence. Dec 23, Michele rated it really liked it Recommends it for: People with a lot of time and a dictionary.

I swear I will read Henry James before I die. It might take that long for me to finish this book, considering I have to read each sentence at least 3 times. Renewed twice and still only got to page The man is a master of motive and character study, once you can figure out what he's actually saying. The pattern seems to be a few pages of character's developing thought, reasoning, and analysis of events, then finally arriving at the character's perspective. Then several pages of dialog to back it up.

Once you get it, it's fascinating. It's the Victorian Age, and the characters are as repressed as it gets, which explains why everything is almost painfully understated. In one sense, the book reads like pages of Victorian gossip. In lesser hands, the plot would read like a bad soap opera.

The Wings Of the Dove

I find myself racing to the end to find out how it all turns out. This book has been well worth the perseverance. It's juicy to the last sentence. Oct 16, Mary Anne rated it really liked it Shelves: I still don't know. We all knew something. But what do they know? James uses a very oblique writing style. This style seems to say so much without saying anything at all. Very little is crystal clear in this book, to the extent that when Kate actually directs Densher in her plot, the directness of Unknown page: Very little is crystal clear in this book, to the extent that when Kate actually directs Densher in her plot, the directness of her words seem crass.

But not to worry, because this is charity work. The writing, while lengthy, is quite beautiful. View all 4 comments. In many ways, it's a return to the eroticised economic triangle of The Portrait of a Lady , but this time it's the European lovers with whom we're most aligned, complicating our responses to, and negotiation through, the book.

In lots of ways there's more 'action' than in many of James' no 4. In lots of ways there's more 'action' than in many of James' novels, but the real dynamic is that between characters, and within the conscience of individuals especially, perhaps, Merton Densher, the man around whom so many women circulate, albeit for different reasons. Like Isabel Archer before her, Milly has an American innocence that clashes with the guile of her European friends, and her desire to live becomes the quest around which so much of the book revolves. Make no mistake, James' prose is at its most labyrinthine and Latinate in this book, occasionally tipping over into obscurity - it forces us to read slowly both for syntactical reasons but also to unweave the complex, sometimes contradictory, psychological impulses and nuances of the characters and their conversations.

The dialogue, particularly, is tremendous, and the 'big' scenes, especially those between Kate and Merton, are exemplary of James' deep interest in the inner workings of personal psychology. This is also and I'm aware of the oddness of associating this word with James a deeply erotic novel, but a kind of underground, dark, secret form of eroticism that helps to mark this as a modernist work rather than a Victorian hangover. I've docked half a star because there are places where it's nigh on impossible to make sense of what James is getting at - but overall a stunningly complex, thrilling, breathtaking drama that refuses closure but remains satisfying.

Jan 06, David rated it it was amazing. Gives new meaning to the expression "adventures in reading. I found the experience altogether fascinating, both in its challenges and its rewards--and there were wonderful rewards, passages and situations t Gives new meaning to the expression "adventures in reading. I found the experience altogether fascinating, both in its challenges and its rewards--and there were wonderful rewards, passages and situations that moved me to tears and to laughter both.

The problem of the style remains just that--a problem, and one that reading should not try to make disappear too quickly, whether in the negative mode of curt dismissal which renders curiosity about the style pointless or the positive mode of effusive admiration which renders curiosity needless. I found it interesting to observe the ghost of Hawthorne in the way James manages his narrative. As in The Scarlet Letter, the surfaces of conversation and social action are mere occasions that serve to confirm the slow deep movement of motive and feeling that James is at such pains to render in that so frequently maddening prose.

There are episodes between Kate Croy and Densher that in many ways recreate those between Hester Prynne and Dimmesdale; and Jane Austen reappears in certain of James' situations and plot devices--the secret engagement between Kate Croy and Merton Densher replays, and in interesting ways revises, the secret engagement of Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax in Austen's Emma. The impecunious Kate Croy is as emphatically active and morally implicated as the equally impecunious Jane Fairfax is passive and morally blameless. I was struck how, like his brother William, Henry James is at bottom a depth psychologist of extraordinary orginality and penetration.

Is part of the trouble this book gives us that so much of what it psychologically finds as it investigates the case of Kate Croy, Merton Densher, and Milly Theale does not conform to our assumptions, expectations, and understandings about how characters are supposed to think and feel and act, in novels or in life? At the end, there remain passages that elude me--James' perceptions remain beyond me at many points.

Yet the book offers a multitude of satisfactions--it is, after all, a first-rate romantic thriller, full of suspenseful episodes and populated with a cast of fascinating characters whose intrigues are fascinatingly presented and developed. As so often in literature, the greatness of this work resides as much or more in its difficulties and strangenesses as in the sweets--and they are many--it serves up for our taste.

Jan 24, Rachel rated it really liked it. I have a thing for Henry James. I suppose many students find him dense and confusing. But I love his style. I love the careful, layered characterizations, the detailed descriptions, and the way James' novels flow mostly from internal dialogue. His artistry is in telling the story through the consciousness of the characters.

I simply love it! Gotta love the undercurrent of Victorian sensuality--in the books the untold is the told. Sep 27, Gary Inbinder rated it it was amazing Shelves: This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

Hal Ketchum - Wings of a Dove

Kate Croy, the active protagonist in this drama, begins the story in a state of existential conflict from which she struggles and schemes to extricate herself as the intricate, character-driven plot unfolds. Kate is a penniless young woman dependent upon the good wil Second reading. Kate is a penniless young woman dependent upon the good will of her wealthy, social-climbing aunt. Kate is attractive and fashionable; her aunt has brought Kate out in London society with the goal of arranging an advantageous marriage for her niece. Moreover, Kate carries the burden of a needy, good-for-nothing father and a widowed sister living in borderline poverty with her children.

However, Kate is in love with Merton Densher, a handsome, charming but poor journalist. Opportunity knocks in the form of Millie Theale, an immensely wealthy young American woman with no family of her own. And Millie has a secret: When Kate learns the secret, she devises a scheme that might solve all her problems. But then, to quote Robert Burns: In this allegorical context, Kate and Merton stand-in for a sinful Adam and Eve and the various relationships among the characters, the situations and settings can support such an interpretation.

Nevertheless, the allegory makes sense of the enigmatic ending. She adds this emphasis: Should this novel be read as an allegory? James was interested in the use of symbolism and allegory in art. The downside is convoluted sentences that run as long as paragraphs and paragraphs that run more than a page.

This is probably not the best choice for an audio book - it is really quite intricate, and I struggled at times to find the referent in some of these Jamesian sentences, even as Juliet Stevenson did her usual remarkable job. As with Portrait of the Lady, I managed to forget the exact contours of the plot since my first reading some 25 years ago or so. And as with Portrait of the Lady, I spent the early part of the book not really loving it.

I found too little to get a grip on in the beginning. B This is probably not the best choice for an audio book - it is really quite intricate, and I struggled at times to find the referent in some of these Jamesian sentences, even as Juliet Stevenson did her usual remarkable job. But then, oh, of course, James' grand design starts to pay off, and the elaborate gradations of sentiment and nuance become rather heartpoundingly immediate and intense. It is not my first thought when I think of James, but I literally could not stop listening by the end.

What can I say? I watched the movie concurrently with listening to the end of the book. The movie is luscious, but has little to do with the book except in the roughest outlines and everyone becomes much cruder of necessity, I guess. So both are enjoyable, but two different enjoyments entirely. An utter fave novel and heroine. Love and betrayal with HJ motifs of victimised innocence and triumph without attainment.

Gotta love the sex 'n' death symbiosis. But what's more romantic than being in love with a memory. Well, maybe not ever, but definitely the worst one yet on this list and there have been some that have sucked mightily. How this book made the list, I have no idea, but it has rattled my already shaky faith in the validity of this list.

I suspect that it has something to do with one Mr. Gore Vidal, who, judging from the little blurb on the back of the dust jacket of the copy that I hav The Wings of the Dove Henry James 26 June 8, This has to be the worst book that I have ever read. Gore Vidal, who, judging from the little blurb on the back of the dust jacket of the copy that I have, thinks that Henry James is the be-all to end-all of modern literature. If I ever see Mr. There are two more books of Mr. I own a handsome copy of The Ambassadors, and was quite proud of obtaining it before reading this book.

Now I think that I might use it to soak up some oil stains in my driveway. To the book — James spends a huge amount of time being so descriptive about pointless things that the reader is left without a clue as to what is happening in the book, or who anyone is, or what he or she is even dong there. And sucked it did. I am happy to report that I only paid a dollar for my copy of this book, which was withdrawn from the Conroe, Texas library, possibly in fear that it might, by some strange literary osmosis, make all the other books on the shelf suck as well.

It had only been read once, by some unfortunate soul who was a sloppy reader and had spilled soup or something on the pages and had only made it to page or so before either personally returning it to the library, or having it returned to the library by some friend or family member after prying it from the dead, cold hands of a reader that had eaten poison to relieve the painful existence that their life had become after reading part of this book.

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I digress… It only took pages of agony for this book to get in the least bit interesting. I had, after all, just figured out that Mrs. Stringham was Susan Shepherd, and that led me to assume that Mrs. Aunt Maud, was Maud Maningham, a fact that should have been made clear at the onset of the book.

Suspense in writing should not come from figuring out to whom the author is referring to unless they are some kind of spy, double agent, or in some alternate reality. Thanks for the clarity, Henry. What the hell kind of name is Merton, anyway? I do know that Merton Densher comes close to sharing with Dick Diver the most unfortunate name in literature.

Come to think of it, I want my dollar back. May 01, Esdaile rated it it was amazing Shelves: This book is extremely demanding. Intimate yet lovelorn, the whole thing is about as erotic as a snuff movie.

First edition identification and notes

Original trailer for The Wings of the Dove 2: The Wings of the Dove Tom Shone is the author of Blockbuster: A Retrospective Abrams, , Woody Allen: A Retrospective Abrams, and the forthcoming Tarantino: The Moviegoer , a biweekly feature from Library of America, showcases leading writers revisiting memorable films to watch or watch again, all inspired by classic works of American literature. Discount offer available for first-time customers only. With contributions from donors, Library of America preserves and celebrates a vital part of our cultural heritage for generations to come.

Back The Wings of the Dove: Explore Further The Heiress: The Moviegoer Dance of the damned: The Moviegoer In a Lonely Place: Film noir as an opera of male fury. The Moviegoer The Swimmer: A prophetic modernist fable set in a fading Eden. Browse our books Subscribe. In very good condition. Considered one of Henry James' greatest novels of character portrayal, which details the days of "the vivid and magnificent yet corrupt Kate Croy The American edition preceded the publication of the English edition by nine days.

First American edition, first printing. Very Good, with wear at spine ends and corners, previous owner details scratched out on front free end papers. Volume I with inner hinges cracked but holding for now. Volume II shows scuffing and water drops to front cover, bumping to bottom corner of pages. A nice set, seemingly less common in the variant binding.

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Charles Scribner's and Son, Copyright date , first editions, first printings, Brown covers over boards with gold lettering on the spines. Both volumes have gold gilt top page edges, for edge and bottom page edges are not cut. No Dust Jacket Or Slipcase. No bent pages, volume 2 inside flyleaf upper right corner has been bent and two short tears, volume 1 has no tears, both volumes have shelf wear to the edges and to the head and toe of the spine that are moderate.

Ex libris label on the inside covers. Texts are bright and clean, bindings are secure, a solid set of books of the top novels of the 20th century. Top edge gilt, spines slightly cocked, no names or markings, hinges tight.. First Edition - U. The Wings of the Dove 2 Vols. Henry James New York: Complete in Two Volumes. Brown cloth, gilt spine titles, gilt edge. Small closed snags at spine heads. VG- Sunning to spines; Top of spine torn on vol. Brown cloth with gilt titling at spines; pp. Ships with Tracking Number!

Buy with confidence, excellent customer service! Only copies printed. Shows definite wear, and perhaps considerable marking on inside. Better World Books Condition: Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. The Wings of the Dove Henry James May not contain Access Codes or Supplements. First Rough Draft script for an unproduced film, intended for development at Vanguard Films, inherited by Vanguard from Selznick International.

Based on the novel by Henry James.