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The Golden Bowl (English Library) [Paperback]

Henry James , Gore Vidal
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 27 Jun 1985 --  
There is a newer edition of this item:
The Golden Bowl (Penguin Classics) The Golden Bowl (Penguin Classics) 4.0 out of 5 stars (2)
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Book Description

27 Jun 1985 English Library
This story of the alliance between Italian aristocracy and American millionaires is "a work unique among all [James's] novels: it is [his] only novel in which things come out right for his characters ...he had finally resolved the questions, curious and passionate, that had kept him at his desk on his inquiries into the process of living. He could now make his peace with America—and he could now collect and unify the work of a lifetime." —Leon Edel in The Life of Henry James

Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (27 Jun 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140432353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140432350
  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 13 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,339,302 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.

Product Description


"It is well written, the introduction useful, and the paperback price makes it acceptable for students."--Edna L Steeves, Univ. of Rhode Island --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Henry James (1843-1916) was born in New York and settled in Europe in 1875. He was a regular contributor of reviews, critical essays, and short stories to American periodicals. He is best known for his many novels of American and European character.

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First Sentence
The Prince had always liked his London, when it had come to him; he was one of the Modern Romans who find by the Thames a more convincing image of the truth of the ancient state than any they have left by the Tiber. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and challenging... 24 Oct 1999
By A Customer
Definitely the most demanding read I've had in a long time, Henry James' THE GOLDEN BOWL is not to be missed. In James' final novel, he has created a true masterpiece. Not only must the reader concentrate, but he/she must also actually participate and think in order to take anything away from the book. It's basic plot is quite straightforward: Adam Verver and his daughter, Maggie, are affluent art collectors living in Europe. Maggie marries Amerigo, an Italian prince in reduced circumstances, and Adam marries Maggie's longtime friend Charlotte. What father and daughter don't know is that Charlotte and Amerigo were formerly lovers, and that they have rekindled their affair.
Written in a beautifully ambiguous style, BOWL is full of ingenious symbolism, and must be experienced to be fully appreciated. James has decided to tell a story with a very unique voice, and it is likely that most readers will be scared off by the decidedly difficult prose. However, it is an absolute must for any serious reader who wants to challenge him/herself with what is arguably Henry James' best novel. It may take months to trudge through (as it did for me), but it is worth it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The very best Henry James 2 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Wonderful, subtle, unsettling, brilliant Henry James. If you should happen to come to the book after seeing the Merchant Ivory film (which is extremely good considering the limitations of adaptations) you will be blown over by the intricacies of the plot, the rich metaphors, the twists of meaning and implication, the marvellous descriptions of people and places, and the development and surprising turns of character. The cover illustration on this edition was also very refreshing after the 'Dreams' painting I am accustomed to, and Nicola Bradbury's introduction and notes are both necessary and excellent.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotic 2 Dec 2008
When I started reading "The Golden Bowl" I wasn't sure if I would finish it, but I promised myself I would read at least a hundred pages, to give it a chance, and by the time I had got that far I was hooked. Yes, the enormous, convoluted sentences make Proust seem terse, and I'm pretty sure not all of those sentences actually parse, but I came to realise that this doesn't really matter, and stopped trying to disentangle them. It's almost as if James had dictated the entire book in a long-winded conversational style and never bothered to check if what he had said made grammatical sense.

So I took to reading the book when drowsy, often glass in hand, and contented myself with "getting the drift". And the drift is beautiful, seductive even. I found myself wanting to know what Charlotte and the Prince had been getting up to behind the scenes, and what Maggie would do to stop them doing whatever it was. A scene near the end, when Maggie lets Charlotte get away with claiming a victory, stunned me with its brilliance.

I'm glad I made the effort (and it certainly was an effort to begin with). The book is a flawed masterpiece (like the bowl itself - was that deliberate?). Give it a sympathetic go and you'll be rewarded.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best 12 Aug 2008
As a Henry James lover, having read everything he's written, & waded through The Golden Bowl twice, I feel I've earnt the right to say it's not his best book.

The epicurean connoisseur at life's feast indulges himself in his last book with a fault to which he confessed himself prone: "to over-treat".

The writing is marred by endless empty sub-clauses, pointless repetition, rhetorical flourishes, & affected, stagey dialogue. The metaphors are forced and over-blown, the description of character hyperbolic, the drama suffocates under the weight of its own 'written-ness'. His late style marks a form of literary inflation: here he uses 50 words where in earlier work he used 5 to more powerful effect.

The 'Master' has, in short, run to fat.
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