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The Golden Bowl
by Henry James
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The St. Charles Players enliven this typical Henry James tale of an American father and daughter navigating through very sticky British relationships. The pomp and snobbery of James's work play out complete with sound effects, such as crackling fires, braying horses, and a different actor for each character. Surprisingly, these effects enhance the overall presentation, adding color to the predictable and intricate plot line. The varied performers artfully weave this story of complicated relationships and social mores, with its symbolism of the cracked golden bowl, into a fresh story. Where James can be tiresome and mired in heavy text, the St. Charles Players bring air and light into his weighty prose and stifling English gentry. H.L.S. © AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
"It is well written, the introduction useful, and the paperback price makes it acceptable for students."--Edna L Steeves, Univ. of Rhode Island
Published in 1904, The Golden Bowl is the last completed novel of Henry James. In it, the widowed American Adam Verver is in Europe with his daughter Maggie. They are rich, finely appreciative of European art and culture, and deeply attached to each other. Maggie has all the innocent charm of
so many of Jamess young American heroines. She is engaged to Amerigo, an impoverished Italian prince; he must marry money, and as his name suggests, an American heiress is the perfect solution. The golden bowl, first seen in a London curio shop, is used emblematically throughout the novel. Not solid
gold but gilded crystal, the perfect surface conceals a flaw; it is symbolic of the relationship between the main characters and of the world in which they move.
Also in Europe is an old friend of Maggies, Charlotte Stant, a girl of great charm and independence, and Maggie is blindly ignorant of the fact that she and the prince are lovers. Maggie and Amerigo are married and have a son, but Maggie remains dependent for real intimacy on her father, and she and
Amerigo grow increasingly apart. Feeling that her father has suffered a loss through her marriage, Maggie decides to find him a wife, and her choice falls on Charlotte. Charlottes affair with the prince continues and Adam Verver seems to her to be a suitable and convenient match. When Maggie herself
finally comes into possession of the golden bowl, the flaw is revealed to her, and, inadvertently, the truth about Amerigo and Charlotte. Fanny Assingham (an older woman, aware of the truth from the beginning) deliberately breaks the bowl, and this marks the end of Maggies innocence. She is no
pathetic heroine-victim, however. Abstaining from outcry and outrage she instead takes the reins and maneuvers people and events. She still wants to be with Amerigo, but he must continue to be worth having and they must all be saved further humiliations and indignities. To be a wife she must cease
to be a daughter; Adam Verver and the unhappy Charlotte are banished forever to America, and the new Maggie will establish a real marriage with Amerigo.
The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
Novel by Henry James, published in 1904. Wealthy American widower Adam Verver and his daughter Maggie live in Europe, where they collect art and relish each other's company. Through the efforts of the manipulative Fanny Assingham, Maggie becomes engaged to Amerigo, an Italian prince in reduced circumstances, but remains blind to his rekindled affair with her longtime friend Charlotte Stant. Maggie and Amerigo marry, and later, after Charlotte and Adam have also wed, both spouses learn of the ongoing affair, though neither seeks a confrontation. Not until Maggie buys the gilded crystal bowl of the title as a birthday present for Adam does truth crack the veneer of propriety.
Inside Flap Copy
Introduction by Denis Donoghue
About the Author
Henry James (1843-1916), son of Henry James Sr. and brother of the philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James, was an American-born author and literary critic of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He spent much of his life in Europe and became a British subject shortly before his death. He is primarily known for novels, novellas and short stories based on themes of consciousness and morality.
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