Authors & Events
Apr 08, 2003
| ISBN 9780812967197
Nov 04, 1997
| ISBN 9780679455127
Nov 01, 2000
| ISBN 9780679641568
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Apr 08, 2003 | ISBN 9780812967197
Nov 04, 1997 | ISBN 9780679455127
Nov 01, 2000 | ISBN 9780679641568
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all timeSet amid the splendor of London drawing rooms and gilded Venetian palazzos, The Wings of the Dove is the story of Milly Theale, a naïve, doomed American heiress, and a pair of lovers, Kate Croy and Merton Densher, who conspire to obtain her fortune. In this witty tragedy of treachery, self-deception, and betrayal, Henry James weaves together three ill-fated and wholly human destinies unexpectedly linked by desire, greed, and salvation. As Amy Bloom writes in her Introduction, “The Wings of the Dove is a novel of intimacy. . . . [James] gives us passion, he gives us love in its terrible and enchanting forms.”
Of the three late masterpieces that crown the extraordinary literary achievement of Henry James, The Wings of the Dove (1902) is at once the most personal and the most elemental. James drew on the memory of a beloved cousin who died young to create one of the three central characters, Milly Theale, an heiress with a short time to live and a passion for experiencing life to its fullest. To the creation of the other two, Merton Densher and the magnificent, predatory Kate Croy, who conspire in an act of deceit and betrayal, he brought a lifetime’s distilled wisdom about the frailty of the human soul when it is trapped in the depths of need and desire. And he brought to the drama that unites these three characters, in the drawing rooms of London and on the storm-lit piazzas of Venice, a starkness and classical purity almost unprecedented in his work.Under its brilliant, coruscating surfaces, beyond the scrim of its marvelous rhetorical and psychological devices, The Wings of the Dove offers an unfettered vision of our civilization and its discontents. It represents a culmination of James’s art and, as such, of the art of the novel itself.
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all timeNeither Edith Wharton nor E. M. Forster admired it, but Louis Auchincloss calls The Wings of the Dove ‘perhaps the greatest of Henry James’s novels.’ Published in 1902, the novel represented something of a comeback for James, whose only ‘bestseller,’ Daisy Miller, had appeared more than two decades earlier. Set amid the splendor of fashionable London drawing rooms and gilded Venetian palazzos, the story concerns a pair of lovers who conspire to obtain the fortune of a doomed American heiress. But the naïve young woman becomes both their victim and their redeemer in James’s meticulously designed drama of treachery and self-betrayal. ‘It seems to me that I know the characters even more intimately than I know the characters in the earlier novels of his Balzac period,’ said Louis Auchincloss. ‘The Wings of the Dove represents the pinnacle of James’s prose.’ This version is the definitive New York Edition, which appeared in 1907, together with the author’s Preface.
Henry James was born on April 15, 1843, on Washington Place in New York to the most intellectually remarkable of American families. His father, Henry James Sr., was a brilliant and eccentric religious philosopher; his brother was one of the… More about Henry James
“The Wings of the Dove represents the pinnacle of James’s prose.”—Louis Auchincloss
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