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. The idea, reduced to its essence, is that of a young person conscious of a great capacity for life, but early stricken and doomed, condemned to die under short respite, while also enamoured of the world; aware moreover of the condemnation and passionately desiring to “put in” before extinction as many of the finer vibrations as possible, and so achieve, however briefly and brokenly, the sense of having lived.
with, of establishing one's successive centres--of fixing them so exactly that the portions of the subject commanded by them as by happy points of view, and accordingly treated from them, would constitute, so to speak, sufficiently solid BLOCKS of wrought material, squared to the sharp edge, as to have weight and mass and carrying power; to make for construction, that is, to conduce to effect and to provide for beauty. Such a block, obviously, is the whole preliminary presentation of Kate Croy, which, from the first, I recall, absolutely declined to (xiii) enact itself save in terms of amplitude. Terms of amplitude, terms of atmosphere, those terms, and those terms only, in which images assert their fulness and roundness, their power to revolve, so that they have sides and backs, parts in the shade as true as parts in the sun--these were plainly to be my conditions, right and left, and I was so far from overrating the amount of expression the whole thing, as I saw and felt it, would require, that to retrace
If you like things black and white, if you like sparse language, if you like fast paced action, don't read this book.
If on the other hand, you can deal with many shades of gray, you can deal with multiple levels of complexity and you are OK with not quite knowing where the exact boundary lies between good and evil, then this book may be for you.
A young lady wants to wed, but her boy friend doesn't have the financial means to win the approval of her Aunt. Enter a bright young American girl, visiting London and they become friends. The American girl, has money but no family and she may be terminally ill? The young lady's boy friend is encouraged to spend time with the charming young American girl, by his future bride.
You can see the potential difficulties, can't you?
Well Mr James takes his time about it, but ever so slowly we are tangled into their web, leaving us eventually with an interesting exercise in moral judgment.
For me it was overly slow and plodding at times but it was also rich in language and thought, so worthwhile.
But, you be the judge, ...as Mr. James intended.