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August 18, 2011

Question about The Wings of the Dove

Coming up soon on my list of books to read is The Wings of the Dove by Henry James. I really love A Portrait of a Lady. Fairly recently, however, I reread What Maisie Knew and wished I hadn’t. Where does Wings… lie on a spectrum of these two books, in terms of difficulty and enjoyment? Should I give this one a miss, or is it worth tackling?

One thought on “Question about The Wings of the Dove”

  1. Depends on which version of What Maisie Knew you read: the early version or the New York Edition, which he rewrote (and virtually destroyed) in his late style.

    The Wings of the Dove is late James: highly obtuse, wordy, psychological, subtle. Many people consider this his most masterful period, and certain critics consider The Wings of the Dove and The Golden Bowl to be his masterpieces. Both are closer in spirit and approach to Portrait of a Lady than What Maisie Knew.

    However, late James is difficult, and requires reserves of patience. Not something to read of an afternoon.

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