Monday, January 2, 2012

The Wings of the Dove

Let's start the year off proper.  A brief book discussion is in order!


Comtesse de Castiglione by Pierre-Louis Pierson 1867

Do you remember more than a month ago when I went to Venice, I said I was going to start reading Henry James' The Wings of the Dove?  Well, I have finally pecked away at it to it's last crumb, and can't help but feel like I'm still a bit...peckish?  There is something about Henry and I that just do not meld together, which is strange as I love his friend and contemporary, Edith Wharton, wildly!  Is it the endless descriptions -pages!- that start to bore me or have me loosing concentration?  Or was it just the case with this book?  I'd like to try reading The Aspern Papers, his novella on Venice.  What is your viewpoint on him?  Please tell me I'm not alone!

Nevertheless, The Wings of the Dove tells a somewhat malicious story of a poor Mr. Densher and another Kate Croy, who find themselves in love but under the command of Kate's Aunt Maud.  Aunt Maud refuses to allow Kate to marry for love a man with no money.  Along comes our 'dove,' Milly, an American millionairess, alone in the world with money coming out of her ears, yet who seems to be struggling with a terminal illness.  Conniving Kate suggests Milly to Densher, as she's impossibly rich and dying...which given time will give the two of them a means to be together.  Terrible?  Yes.  Compelling?  A bit.  I won't spoil the end but as these stories of wicked souls go, the end is often like a sad Chinese film.  This was no exception.

Asta Nielsen in Den Sorte Drøm (The Black Dream), 1911


I will give Henry James credit where it is do.  The scenes of dialogue were more than exciting, almost page-turner worthy, but unfortunately they only made up about 30 percent of the book.  And the last 25 pages were not only made up of all drama-filled dialogue, but also really finished the story with a bang.  A bang big enough for me to maybe try another of his stories.  Can you give me any suggestions?  

7 comments:

bibliolathas said...

Definitely *Daisy Miller*, a novella about a young American in Italy.

helen tilston said...

I have not read this book. Your description of it makes it sound like good opera material.

I just love your blog. Thank you and happy New Year

Helen x

Anonymous said...

I had the highest hopes for "Wings of the Dove" when I read it this summer in Venice. I also love Wharton, so was expecting to be transported! But, like you, I did have trouble sinking into "Wings". However, "The Aspern Papers" I just devoured. A great read- hopefully you will like it too!
Happy New Year!

Dandy said...

I love Henry James, and this is one of my favorites. The film version is the only one that captures his voice. Most everyone has problems with James, including Virginia Woolf, who wrote long parodies of his never-ending sentences. He is like reading smoke and mist.

Daniel-Halifax said...

Thank you, Bibliothas! I've added it to my list to order...and it looks great! Thanks for stopping by, love your blog!

Helen, it's true, whenever TB is involved it's hard for us not to think of a choking Mimi...and thank you so much!

Anonymous, if only I knew who you were! Such a kindred spirit...yes, I must start 'Aspern Papers.' I want to like him so much, maybe this will be the answer.

Dandy, I remember loving the film as well...although it was more than a decade ago I saw it? It makes me feel a little better that Virginia had trouble with him...she's such a favorite of mine, now more than ever!

StuckInABook said...

Oh gosh, Henry and I are not friends. I waded through Turn of the Screw and thought I might die. I didn't understand what the sentences even meant, let alone draw anything deeper from them. I don't get on with authors who don't know how to use a full stop.

Anonymous said...

One does not have to connect with every admired author. I keep thinking I should like Herman Melville but alas, no. I don't care for Wharton either but there you go. Faulkner, Steinbeck, McMurtry and for those days when I don't want to think I just want to be entertained, Janet Evanovich. I just finished "Explosive Eighteen". Great literature - no lots of fun - yes. Ann