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Daisy Miller: And Other Stories (Wordsworth Classics) [Paperback]

Henry James

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Book Description

1 Aug 1994 Wordsworth Classics

This Wordsworth Edition includes an exclusive Introduction and Notes by Pat Righelato, University of Reading.

Daisy Miller is one of Henry James's most attractive heroines: she represents youth and frivolity. As a tourist in Italy, her American freedom and freshness of spirit come up against the corruption and hypocrisy of European manners. From its first publication, readers on both sides of the Atlantic have quarrelled about her, defending or attacking the liberties that Daisy takes and the conventions that she ignores. All three tales in this collection, Daisy Miller, An International Episode and Lady Barbarina, express James's most notable subject, 'the international theme', the encounters, romantic and cultural, between Americans and Europeans. His heroes and heroines approach each other on unfamiliar ground with new freedoms, yet find themselves unexpectedly hampered by old constraints.

In An International Episode, an English lord visiting Newport, Rhode Island, falls in love with an American girl, but their relationship becomes more complicated when she travels to London.

In the light-hearted comedy Lady Barbarina, a rich young American seeks an English aristocratic bride.

The unusual outcomes of these three tales pose a number of social questions about marriage and the traditional roles of men and women. Is an international marriage symbolic of the highest cultural fusion of values or is it an old style raid and capture? Is marriage to remain the feminine destination?

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; Paperback edition (1 Aug 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853262137
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853262135
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.7 x 0.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Henry James was born in 1843 in Washington Place, New York, of Scottish and Irish ancestry. His father was a prominent theologian and philosopher and his elder brother, William, is also famous as a philosopher. He attended schools in New York and later in London, Paris and Geneva, entering the Law School at Harvard in 1862. In 1865 he began to contribute reviews and short stories to American journals. In 1875, after two prior visits to Europe, he settled for a year in Paris, where he met Flaubert, Turgenev and other literary figures. However, the next year he moved to London, where he became so popular in society that in the winter of 1878-9 he confessed to accepting 107 invitations. In 1898 he left London and went to live at Lamb House, Rye, Sussex. Henry James became a naturalized citizen in 1915, was awarded the Order of Merit and died in 1916.

In addition to many short stories, plays, books of criticism, autobiography and travel, he wrote some twenty novels, the first published being Roderick Hudson (1875). They include The Europeans, Washington Square, The Portrait of a Lady, The Bostonians, The Princess Casamassima, The Tragic Muse, The Spoils of Poynton, The Awkward Age, The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl.

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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern Surveillance Cameras ... 2 May 2010
By Giordano Bruno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
... have nothing over Henry James! Whatever his many biographers discover about his mundane corporeal existence, James's novels reveal him best, as an inveterate observer - his own words! - a chronic emotional voyeur, always in and never of society, a one-way looking glass. It made him the great writer he was, though one wouldn't want to BE him. "Well," as God said to Satan, "keeping watch on humans is a dirty job, but somebody has to do it."

The four long stories in this Oxford Clssic edition were not originally published together. "Daisy Miller" appeared in 1878, "Pandora" in 1884, "Patagonia" in 1888. The fourth piece, "Four Meetings", was one of James's first, written before 1877. They are a natural assembly, nevertheless, effectively versions of the same story.

"They're very ignorant -- very innocent only, and utterly uncivilized. Depend on it they're not 'bad.'"
"They're hopelessly vulgar," said Mrs. Costello. "Whether being hopelessly vulgar is being 'bad' is a questions for the metaphysicians. They're bad enough to blush for, at any rate; and for this short life that's quite enough."

Winterbourne, the first speaker above, is an American of twenty-seven who has lived most of his life in Europe, specifically in Geneva, where he is either a career student or simply an ornamental male presence, depending on the reporter. If 'earning a living' is of any concern to him, it plays no part in his demeanor in this narrative. Mrs. Costello is his wealthy aunt (a dowager?), who 'commands' his proper familial attentions at various resorts and in Rome several weeks a year. She is the very voice of propriety and discretion -- a snooty old biddy, if you will -- while he is a dilettante, a poseur, a prig, a veritable Henry James in short. "They" are the Millers - mother, daughter, and son - sent to inspect Europe and report back on its cultural progress by their filthy rich pater familias Cyrus Miller, of Schenectady, New York. Winterbourne first meets Daisy Miller while visiting his Aunt at Vevey, in Switzerland. He is entranced both by her beauty and by her bizarre ignorance of and/or indifference to the social codes of the Old World. Winterbourne and his Aunt are ludicrous snobs and ditherers; it's important to grasp that they are objects of satire as thoroughly as the Millers, the prototypical "ugly Americans" of touristic prominence all over Europe then and now. In fact, everyone in this novella comes in for a share of deliciously condescending satire, most pointedly James himself in the guise of Winterbourne. That's one of the redeeming qualities of Henry James, his ability to perceive and portray his own uselessness as a mere onlooker at life.

"Daisy Miller" is a gem, an 80-page masterpiece of snarky ambivalence. When I read it first, long ago in college, I probably took Winterbourne seriously; after all, the tale is told from his point of view. But taking himself or his fictional avatars seriously was a fault Henry James never committed. A longer exposure to James's self-observation, such as his later novels require, can challenge a reader's patience; there's only so much most of us want to care for such meticulous ambiguity. But "Daisy Miller" and "Pandora" are eminently enjoyable.

For a man and writer whose sexuality was so peculiarly repressed, James has made his irrepressible American girl Daisy Miller quite a luscious minx. Poor Winterbourne, stiff and epicene, can't keep his eyes off her. In the end, however, his fascination amounts merely to a kind of obsessive observation, and that's the core of the story, the voyeurism which underlies Henry James's literary genius. Nevertheless, Daisy is a brilliant 'study' of the American personality that Europeans have, then and now, found utterly appalling, naive and gauche ... and insidiously alluring.

Written six years after Daisy Miller, "Pandora" is a tongue-in-ear sequel, or perhaps a da capo aria. The characters have different names and play their roles with different outcomes, but James plainly intended the second story to complement the first. In fact, the earlier story is explicitly referenced as `a fiction to read to prepare for America.' "Pandora" begins on a ship crossing from Europe to New York. A young German diplomat, en route to a posting in Washington DC, assumes Winterbourne'James's role as "observer". There's a good deal of fun to be had with putting a precise Teutonic prig in James's skin, and James exploits all of it. The "Daisy" slot in the cast goes to "Pandora", less visually delectable perhaps but a good deal more personally functional. Pandora is on her way to becoming "the new woman," that is, the woman who conquers society merely by force of personality and physical charm, without the advantages of breeding. Our German observer is even less able to communicate his `interest' to Pandora than Winterborne was to Daisy; the most he can do is cogitate about the risk he runs, through his observation, of actually becoming susceptible. The reader will have no reason to fear for him in that manner.

... is also a shipboard tale, with many of the same elements of social misconstruction as the two oolder stories. In it, however, the "observer" is also the first-person narrator, an older and more desexualized James, not so much fascinated by the "new woman" character as by his own obsession with observation. He's a gossip and a meddler, and comes to rue both roles. can we assert that Henry James modeled the famous Uncertainty Principle of physics in social intercourse? The end-game of every character in this and other Jamesian plots is disrupted by the impact of being observed.

Henry James straddled the world of 19th C class consciousness and 20th C class unconsciousness marvelously. Simultaneously the most conservative and the most prophetic of novelists, his women characters are easily the most persuasive and the most intriguing in all American literature. I have the feeling that James would not be at all surprised by the manners of social behavior in the USA in 2010. Daisy and Pandora were halfway here. Neither would he be any more comfortable in our `rec rooms' than he was in the drawing rooms of his own era. Really, I'm afraid he'd find us rather disappointing to observe.
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book 11 Jun 2013
By Jane Simon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Daisy Miller is one of James' masterpieces, and in only a very short format--a great short story by a master of American lit.
3.0 out of 5 stars A collection of Henry James Novellas 9 May 2013
By Ferro - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In addition to "Daisy Miller" this particular edition contains three more somewhat dry novellas, of limited interest, that likewise study Euopean -American cultural differences: "Pandora", "The Patagonia" and "Four Meetings".
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