Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time
Of the three late masterpieces that crown the extraordinary literary achievement of Henry James, "The Wings of the Dove" (1902) is at once the most personal and the most elemental.
James drew on the memory of a beloved cousin who died young to create one of the three central characters, Milly Theale, an heiress with a short time to live and a passion for experiencing life to its fullest. To the creation of the other two, Merton Densher and the magnificent, predatory Kate Croy, who conspire in an act of deceit and betrayal, he brought a lifetime's distilled wisdom about the frailty of the human soul when it is trapped in the depths of need and desire. And he brought to the drama that unites these three characters, in the drawing rooms of London and on the storm-lit piazzas of Venice, a starkness and classical purity almost unprecedented in his work.
Under its brilliant, coruscating surfaces, beyond the scrim of its marvelous rhetorical and psychological devices, "The Wings of the Dove "offers an unfettered vision of our civilization and its discontents. It represents a culmination of James's art and, as such, of the art of the novel itself.
About the Author
Henry James was born the son of a religious philosopher in New York City in 1843. His famous works include The Portrait of a Lady, Washington Square, Daisy Miller, and The Turn of the Screw. He died in London in 1916, and is buried in the family plot in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Amy Bloom is the author of Away, a novel, and two collections of prize-winning stories: Come to Me and A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You. She is a psychotherapist and teaches creative writing at Yale University, where she is a Fellow of Calhoun College.
“The Wings of the Dove represents the pinnacle of James’s prose.”—Louis Auchincloss