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The Wings Of The Dove
by Henry James
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The Wings of the Dove is a classic example of Henry James's morality tales that play off the naiveté of an American protagonist abroad. In early-20th-century London, Kate Croy and Merton Densher are engaged in a passionate, clandestine love affair. Croy is desperately in love with Densher, who has all the qualities of a potentially excellent husband: he's handsome, witty, and idealistic--the one thing he lacks is money, which ultimately renders him unsuitable as a mate. By chance, Croy befriends a young American heiress, Milly Theale. When Croy discovers that Theale suffers from a mysterious and fatal malady, she hatches a plan that can give all three characters something that they want--at a price. Croy and Densher plan to accompany the young woman to Venice where Densher, according to Croy's design, will seduce the ailing heiress. The two hope that Theale will find love and happiness in her last days and--when she dies--will leave her fortune to Densher, so that he and Croy can live happily ever after. The scheme that at first develops as planned begins to founder when Theale discovers the pair's true motives shortly before her death. Densher struggles with unanticipated feelings of love for his new paramour, and his guilt may obstruct his ability to avail himself of Theale's gift. James deftly navigates the complexities and irony of such moral treachery in this stirring novel.
James's story of a love triangle in which nobody really wins is brought to life in shortened form in this excellent production. Kate Coy wants the impoverished Merton Densher, but she wants money, too. When dying American heiress Milly Theale enters their orbit, Kate plots to have Merton marry her and eventually inherit her fortune. Prunella Scales's elegant reading is a good match for James's prose. Her delivery of flat American diction and cultured British voices points up the English-American dichotomy in James's work. She makes Kate's Aunt Maude the penultimate upperclass Brit; one misses only the sound of youth in Kate's voice. The abridgment warrants careful listening, and two listenings would be even more rewarding. J.B.G. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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.
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' a solution to their own problems. For the remarkable Kate, scheming, passionate, poetic, also wants to live... This edition uses the text of the New York Edition, with James's Preface.
From the Publisher
Founded in 1906 by J.M. Dent, the Everyman Library has always tried to make the best books ever written available to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible price. Unique editorial features that help Everyman Paperback Classics stand out from the crowd include: a leading scholar or literary critic's introduction to the text, a biography of the author, a chronology of her or his life and times, a historical selection of criticism, and a concise plot summary. All books published since 1993 have also been completely restyled: all type has been reset, to offer a clarity and ease of reading unique among editions of the classics; a vibrant, full-color cover design now complements these great texts with beautiful contemporary works of art. But the best feature must be Everyman's uniquely low price. Each Everyman title offers these extensive materials at a price that competes with the most inexpensive editions on the market-but Everyman Paperbacks have durable binding, quality paper, and the highest editorial and scholarly standards.
Inside Flap Copy
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.
From the Back Cover
"James did nothing like an Englishman- or an American. He was a great fact in himself, a new world, a terra incognita that he would devote all his days to map-
ping for the rest of us....James was the master of the novel in English in a way that no one had ever been before; or has ever been since."
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