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The Wings of the Dove (1902)

by Henry James

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,180383,588 (3.64)229
Confronting a Bronzino portrait in an English country house, a young American heiress comes face to face with her own predicament. For Milly Theale, who seems to have the world before her and at her feet, is fatally ill. Eager for life, eager for love, she embarks on her European adventure, warming to the admiration of her new friends Kate Croy and Merton Densher. But Merton and Kate are secretly engaged, and come to see in this angel with a thumping bank account as a solution to their own problems. For the remarkable Kate, scheming, passionate, poetic, also wants to live...This edition of James's poignant and dramatic novel is based on the revised New York Edition. The cover pictures the Bronzino portrait which is the focus of the key scene in the book.… (more)
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» See also 229 mentions

English (36)  German (1)  All languages (37)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Although I generally like Henry James, this was really a long slog. He was at his best obscure in this one and pages would go by with sentences that were mostly indefinite pronouns and words in quotes. I remained baffled on most of the characters motives and really got only a bare outline of the plot. Yes, he can craft a beautiful sentence but I need a bit more. He also did what I think of as the Russian novel thing of using different names for the same character in different circumstances and I am sure that had some meaning but I mostly spend a long time convinced Susan Shepard and Mrs. Stringham were different people. I think I will need a little Henry James break, esp. as The Golden Bowl was next in the pile.
  amyem58 | Sep 15, 2022 |
The Wings of the Dove is the longest book I have ever read. No, not the most pages, just the most unending. This is considered a masterpiece and makes dozens of touted “must read” lists, so it is with a bit of chagrin that I say it was a painful experience for me. I pushed myself through it, and that alone keeps it off the favorites page. I strongly felt that every sentence, with the exception of James’ dialogue, could have been edited to half its length and been vastly improved.

The sad thing is, this book does explore significant themes and is built upon an interesting plot idea, but James loves innuendo, so none of his characters ever says what they are thinking and James tells you and tells you and tells you, while showing you little. I found the true meaning of "to beat a dead horse”...in this novel, Henry James has perfected that!

I wanted to like this. I wanted to find at least one character that I could care about in even the slightest way. James is so brilliant in some ways. He is eloquent and luminous and has moments in which you know why he is so admired. So, it feels presumptuous to criticize him, and yet I cannot pretend to love this, because in the end I kind of whispered to myself and for Milly, “thank God that is over!”
( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
Reason read: TBR takedown, Reading 1001, ROOT
This is a story of a love triangle of sorts. Milly Theale is a orphan, heiress. Merton Densher is a young man in love with Kate Croy but he doesn't have money. Kate Croy can't marry Merton because he has no money. Aunt Maud (Kate's) wants Kate to marry Lord Mark because he has money. Henry James, an American author, likes to pitch his 'American' characters as innocent against the wiles of the Europeans. The book also depicts the constraints placed on females by society.The Dove is a major theme in the book. The dove being Milly. "...which was only dove-like only so far as one remembered that doves have wings and wondrous flights, have them as well as tender tints and soft sounds. It even came to him dimly that such wings could in a given case--had, truly, in the case which he was concerned--spread themselves for protection." So basically the story revolves around the two that can't marry for lack of money and the innocent, dove, who has the money. This example also displays how "wordy" the author is. It took awhile for me to finally get this read and I did it by adding audio along with the book. ( )
  Kristelh | Jun 9, 2022 |
This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Wings of the Dove
Authors: Henry James
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars DNF
Genre: Literature
Pages: 544 / 347
Words: 195K / 124K

★☆☆☆☆

There I was, reading a lengthy, wordy, utterly pointless and despicably worthless book. I'd been trapped in this book since January of 2021. I would take lunch and when I felt up to it, I'd read 1-5 pages. The author's determination to make everything as complicated, opaque and difficult as possible made me want to beat him over the head with this tome. But I didn't stop.

I was obviously a sick and addicted man. But it wasn't MY fault. I HAD to read this book to prove to all those Literature People that I was just as intelligent as them! Without this book, how could I show my face in public and discuss the principles of Historical Victorianism Viewed Through a Lens of Ironic Byronism? I NEEDED this book. I really needed a DNF but I hid my problem so well that nobody suspected, not even my closest friends. Without knowing I even had a problem, there was no way they could stage an intervention and get me the help I so desperately needed. So I was stuck in a self-destructive loop of Modern Literature and Pride.

I needed a Hero. Someone to rescue me. Someone to bash Henry James in the face while simultaneously shoving all 544 pages of this book down his scrawny throat. But in this Age of Grimdark Villains and Anti-Heroes, where would I even begin looking for such a Hero as I needed? Even when I asked Shrek to use this book as toilet paper, he read one sentence and simply ran away. Where Oh Where was my Hero!?

♪I need a hero♪

♪I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night♪

♪He's gotta be strong♪

♪And he's gotta be fast♪

♪And he's gotta be fresh from the fight♪

♪I need a hero♪

♪I'm holding out for a hero 'til the morning light♪

♪He's gotta be sure♪

♪And it's gotta be soon♪

♪And he's gotta be larger than life♪

♪Larger than life♪

It turns out, My Hero was right next to me this whole time and I never even realized it until it was too late. My good friend, mild mannered energy drink, Mr Silver Ice came to work with me one day. Little did I know that HE was the Super Hero known as The Rockstar. When The Rockstar saw what was going on he realized only one thing could save me. That day, The Rockstar poured his life out for me and destroyed that book because I was unable to do it myself. I stand here before you all today ONLY because The Rockstar was a true, selfless and self-sacrificing hero. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about. When I opened my bag at lunch and saw the sacrifice The Rockstar had made for me, the chains of bondage to that terrible book were broken and I DNF'd it right on the spot.

Friends, I hope my experience can help some of you. I know the addiction of being a completist, the siren call to just finish the book, no matter how terrible it is. The agony, the pain, the deception as you avoid your friends' eyes and tell them everything is fine. I KNOW. And I sympathize. But you have to accept that you can't do this alone. DNF'ing is a matter that can cut to the soul and most times we simply can't do it. While not everyone has a friend like The Rockstar to help them like I had, I vow, here and now, to help everyone I come across who is struggling with this issue. Do you need help DNF'ing a book? Then I will help you.

I will carry on the Legacy that The Rockstar started in my life. Bad Books and Jackass Authors will tremble at the mere sight of my shadow. The sound of my fingers typing will send them into paroxysms of terror. The Righteous Flames of Wrath will be so expressive from my eyes that their souls will writhe and shrivel to bother us no more.

So fear not, mortals, for this day, in your very sight, a New Defender has arisen. The Bookstooge will be the scourge of the Space Ways, protecting all who may need it (and even those who don't, sometimes anyway).

Mild mannered Bookstooge

and his alter-ego, The Bookstooge ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Apr 5, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (36 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Henry Jamesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bannister, PhilipIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bayley, Johnsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blackmur, R.P.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bloom, AmyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dupee, F. W.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Bruce L. R.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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 postiively pale with the irritation that had brought her to the point of going away without the sight of him.
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"She fixed upon me herself, settled on me with her wonderful gilded claws."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Confronting a Bronzino portrait in an English country house, a young American heiress comes face to face with her own predicament. For Milly Theale, who seems to have the world before her and at her feet, is fatally ill. Eager for life, eager for love, she embarks on her European adventure, warming to the admiration of her new friends Kate Croy and Merton Densher. But Merton and Kate are secretly engaged, and come to see in this angel with a thumping bank account as a solution to their own problems. For the remarkable Kate, scheming, passionate, poetic, also wants to live...This edition of James's poignant and dramatic novel is based on the revised New York Edition. The cover pictures the Bronzino portrait which is the focus of the key scene in the book.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141441283, 0141199849

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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