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Daisy Miller: A Comedy by Henry James

Daisy Miller: A Comedy

by Henry James, Henry James

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Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
I tried to read this years ago, but couldn't bear to finish it. I tried it again, and it was just as terrible as I remembered. The main character is Mr. Winterbourne, a man so priggish that at 27 he still travels with his aunt and wonders with horror if the women he talks to are flirting with him. He is enchanted by Daisy Miller, a banal but pretty girl. However, when next they meet she is behaving all the more outrageously (walking in public places without a chaperone!) and he struggles to reconcile his disapproval with his like of her pretty ways. In the end, she dies of staying out too late at night. Literally.

It's a short read, and thus a good test sample of everything I hate about Henry James--the flat, emotionless tone, the eliptical conversations that say nothing, the stupid slang, the piles of adjectives, the prudish story. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Daisy, her mother, and her younger brother are Americans traveling in Europe. The other Americans they meet regard them as unsophisticated, especially when Daisy repeatedly appears in public flirting with men. They meet a young man named Winterbourne who enjoys Daisy’s company and tries to warn her and her mother of the scandal they are creating, but Daisy refused to change her ways, and her mother is too clueless to listen to anyone. Since immoral behavior always has its consequences, the novella has to end under tragic circumstances.

I first read this in high school and remember not liking it. I liked it more this time, but I’m still not a big fan of Henry James. Still, Daisy Miller is short enough and the point is obvious enough to be a fairly easy read. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
This volume included other stories by Henry James: THE ASPERN PAPERS, THE TURN OF THE SCREW. All good short fiction - maybe I have been wrong about James & he is actually readable!!
Read Samoa Dec 2003 ( )
  mbmackay | Nov 28, 2015 |
The plot is simply told: while touring Europe, an eligible young bachelor, Winterbourne, an American who has spent almost his whole life in Geneva, finds himself attracted to the beautiful, nouveau riche American tourist Daisy Miller. Within a few sentences, the conflict emerges: while he is guarded and conservative, she is brash and even coarse. Does she flout social convention because she’s too innocent to recognize it, or simply because she refuses to be bound by it?

James depicts Daisy as a sort of adult child: beautiful, possessing a sophisticated eye for style, but also impetuous, naïve and plain-spoken in the way children are before they are taught by their elders to dissemble. While modern readers may be put off by her coarseness (treating servants as equals, making plans to travel with gentleman sans chaperone, etc.), I believe James means us to admire her self-confidence and courage. Many of his novels pit “brash” Americans against “conventional” European characters in a way that clearly indicates his preference for the former. Daisy’s fatal flaw isn’t that she scorns the rules of society, he seems to say, but that she isn’t aware of them; and that when she is made aware of them, she refuses to acknowledge the validity of being judged by them. As Daisy herself says in one pivotal scene: “If [I] am all improper, [then] you must give me up.”

This being James, you know not to expect a happy ending, nor does James give us one. Winterbourne, bowing to the prejudices of his snobbish aunt (plus a measure of jealousy, James implies), overmasters his affection and convinces himself to give Daisy up as unworthy of his regard. Whereupon Daisy catches “Roman fever,” sickens, and dies. Significantly, her final words are an avowal of her innocence, an avowal which her "scandalous" male companion Giovanni, endearingly resigned to having been “friend-zoned” by the lovely American girl, confirms when he assures Winterbourne, “She was the most innocent.” James at his most manipulative, offering us a final chance to contrast Daisy’s strength – her determination to remain herself to the end - against Winterbourne’s weakness – his decision to shun her. Ultimately, the lesson seems to be that while Daisy is destroyed by her own innocence, Winterbourne’s chance of happiness is destroyed too, by his inability to accept her on her own terms. As Winterbourne sums up in the final pages: “I was booked to make a mistake. I have lived too long in foreign parts.”

If you’ve been hesitant to take on Henry James, this isn’t a bad place to start. Daisy Miller is short (~100 pages, depending on edition), introduces many of the themes that appear in James’ subsequent works, and – perhaps most importantly, provides the new reader a chance to acclimate themselves to what one might call the “classic Jamesian denoument,” in which no one lives happily ever after and the reader resigns themselves to living with ambiguity. ( )
  Dorritt | Jul 31, 2015 |
The character Daisy Miller presents a bit of a mystery, appearing aloof from society's impressions and entirely uncaring. This perception is more than half the fault of the narrator, as it turns out, who is American by birth but has become European by habit. There's an autobiographical element to this novella since James himself was accused by his brother of having become too European in his outlook. It's probably the easiest read I've encountered so far among James' repertoire, not very indicative of his style in general, but the theme of American versus European society will occur again. ( )
  Cecrow | Jul 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Henry Jamesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
James, Henrymain authorall editionsconfirmed
Moore, GeoffreyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vondeling, KlaasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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At the little town of Vevey, in Switzerland, there is a particularly
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This work is the main work for Daisy Miller, by Henry James. It should not be combined with omnibus editions that contain Daisy Miller with other works; work-to-work relationships indicate that information.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140432620, Mass Market Paperback)

"Daisy Miller" is a fascinating portrait of a young woman from Schenectady, New York, who, traveling in Europe, runs afoul of the socially pretentious American expatriate community in Rome. First published in 1878, the novella brought American novelist Henry James(1843-1916), then living in London, his first international success. Like many of James's early works, it portrays a venturesome American girl in the treacherous waters of European society - a theme that would culminate in his 1881 masterpiece, "The Portrait of a Lady."

On the surface, "Daisy Miller" unfolds a simple story of a young American girl's willful yet innocent flirtation with a young Italian, and its unfortunate consequences. But throughout the narrative, James contrasts American customs and values with European manners and morals in a tale rich in psychological and social insight. A vivid portrayal of Americans abroad and a telling encounter between the values of the Old and New Worlds, "Daisy Miller" is an ideal introduction to the work of one of America's greatest writers of fiction.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:11 -0400)

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Classic novella about a captivating young American whose behavior causes conflicting feelings in the mind of would-be suitor, Winterbourne.

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14 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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