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The Wings of the Dove (Classics) Paperback – 26 Jun 2003


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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (26 Jun 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140432639
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140432633
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,130,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
'THE WINGS OF THE DOVE,' published in 1902, represents to my memory a very old - if I shouldn't perhaps rather say a very young - motive; I can scarce remember the time when the situation on which this long-drawn fiction mainly rests was not vividly present to me. Read the first page
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3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 July 1999
Format: Hardcover
Make no mistake: this is a major novel. It will take everything you've got and then some to get through it. The plotline is simple: who gets to take advantage of a rich dying girl before the others do? But the novel is not about its plot; it's about its language. And what language! It's like trying to swim upstream against prose badly translated out of a dead tongue. Sentences perpetually delaying conclusions and meanings put the reader in the same position as the characters: trapped in amber struggling to get free from their situations. The prose style becomes an affectation one gets past; it's no harder than adjusting to Shakespeare, and easier than Joyce. The language is the true hero of the book, for there's no one else suitable for the position (Milly seems more object than subject as the novel progresses, and is removed for the last third). The chief interest consists largely of what James is going to do next--which viewpoint to take? which episode to develop? All this said, the book does have punch at the end, as characters play their hands and admit to one another and themselves what they won't do.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 April 2001
Format: Paperback
I love Henry James' work, but getting through it is a trial of endurance. Don't try this if you are coming to his work for the first time. Try something shorter like "The Turn of the Screw" which is superb. This is also superb, but is so dense that the language and style takes enormous concentration in order to do the novel full justice. As usual with James' it is not the most cheerful of subject matters and centres around his preoccupation with American naivete struggling to survive in worldly Europe, but it is wonderfully tragic and has some gorgeous characters in it. For the same type of thing on the other side of the ocean try Edith Wharton.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Mar 1999
Format: Hardcover
In my humble opinion, this is James' best work. It surpasses even "The Ambassadors" and "The Golden Bowl" as well as his more often read, not to say more ubiquitous (since lousy movies from Hollywood seem to have revived interest in the author in a manner he would have found distinctly distasteful), earlier masterpieces, short and long. Shame on The Library of America for stalling out on its republication of James' work before getting to the late achievements. Here is one vote for completion of the canon in the usual estimable LOA volumes.
This is a novel to be savoured and treasured. If you're up to late James (he wrote ghost stories, but he's no Stephen King), read on without hesitation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Draper on 21 Aug 2007
Format: Paperback
While reading this I repeatedly told people I was "bogged down" in Henry James which is, I think how many people would find this novel. It's really hard going - essentially a character-driven novel with very little action.

In its defence the descriptions both of characters and locations are wonderfully depicted, and towards the second half of the novel the pace picks up a little. The drama of Densher waiting for a call was not lost on me - but you have to struggle through the drawing room sequences of the first half to get to it.

You certainly wouldn't enjoy this if you need constant action in your novels. The action is underplayed - we don't get to see many of the most dramatic elements of the novel but are only told of them third hand, for example. But the impact of of quite subtle actions on relationships is a theme which is played out throughout this novel in a masterly way. If you are prepared to put in the effort there will be a reward.
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