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Adam and Maggie are perfectly matched in their passive-aggressive tendencies and in their desire to take what they want despite the feelings of others; this "perfection," however, could ultimately become their tragedy. The book's title isn't superfluous. The Golden Bowl really does contain a golden bowl, and it's this that leads Maggie to the startling realization that both her husband and her best friend have been lying to her.

Does she assert herself? Does she become a victim? That, of course, would be unfair to disclose, but it is Maggie's actions that bring The Golden Bowl to a surprising close. The Golden Bowl is Henry James at his finest. His narrative powers, in my opinion, have never been greater than they are in this magnificent novel, though I do know people who find this book rather boring. I really think those people wouldn't like James no matter what book of his they chose to read, and if one is new to the work of Henry James, this isn't the place to begin.

Daisy Miller would be a far better choice.

The Golden Bowl Summary & Study Guide

I found The Golden Bowl to be a richly dense tapestry, as James layers scene upon scene, set piece upon set piece, weaving all into a seamless whole. The Golden Bowl does contain James' beautiful, flowing, convoluted prose that meanders and continuously folds back on itself again and again, however, I don't think the prose is quite as convoluted as it is in The Portrait of a Lady. Brought up on the legend of the City to which the world paid tribute, he recognised in the present London much more than in contemporary Rome the real dimensions of such a case.

If it was a question of an Imperium, he said to himself, and if one wished, as a Roman, to recover a little the sense of that, the place to do so was on London Bridge, or even, on a fine afternoon in May, at Hyde Park Corner.


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Perhaps, more than any other book written by James, The Golden Bowl is a very interior, introspective book. Yes, even more so than The Portrait of a Lady.

The Annotated "Ulysses"/Page - Wikisource, the free online library

While that book concerned the internal torment of one very naive person, Isabel Archer, The Golden Bowl contains the internal torment of two, Prince Amerigo and Maggie Verver, and by extension, Adam Verver and Charlotte Stant, and save for Maggie, none of these characters is, in the slightest bit, naive.

Surprisingly, for me at least, the most sympathetic character isn't Maggie, it's Charlotte.

Maggie and Adam are "collectors" - they treat people in much the same way they treat objets d'art. It is indicative of the genius of James, however, that our sympathies never settle, but constantly shift, first to Charlotte, then to Maggie, then to Adam, then to the Prince. It is also indicative of the genius of James that despite the tragic failings of each of the four main characters in The Golden Bowl , there is something to be pitied in each of them as well.

If I have one small criticism of this magnificent novel, it's the fact that it lacks story tension, and it might be a little overly long. We know Prince Amerigo and Charlotte are being drawn to each other like moths to a flame.

It's not really a question of "if" but rather "when" and what the consequences will be. In the end, The Golden Bowl revolves, not around adultery, but around the torment we endure because of the lies we tell ourselves, the words we leave unspoken. This book constantly asks the questions: What constitutes truth? What Masie Knew A young girl is caught between parents who are in the middle of personal conflict, adultery, and divorce. Can she survive without becoming corrupted? The Ambassadors Lambert Strether is sent from America to Paris to recall Chadwick Newsome, a young man who is reported to be compromising himself by an entanglement with a wicked woman.

So a second ambassador is dispatched in the form of the more determined Sarah Pocock.

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She delivers an ultimatum which is resisted by the two young men, but then an accident reveals unpleasant truths to Strether, who is faced by a test of loyalty between old Europe and the new USA. Henry James at Mantex Biographical notes, study guides, tutorials on the Complete Tales, book reviews.


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  • The Complete Works Sixty books in one The complete novels, stories, travel writing, and prefaces. Also includes his autobiographies, plays, and literary criticism — with illustrations. The Ladder — a Henry James website A collection of eTexts of the tales, novels, plays, and prefaces — with links to available free eTexts at Project Gutenberg and elsewhere. A Hyper-Concordance to the Works Japanese-based online research tool that locates the use of any word or phrase in context.

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    Find that illusive quotable phrase. The Henry James Resource Center A web site with biography, bibliographies, adaptations, archival resources, suggested reading, and recent scholarship. Online Books Page A collection of online texts, including novels, stories, travel writing, literary criticism, and letters. The Complete Letters Archive of the complete correspondence work in progress — published by the University of Nebraska Press. Henry James — The Complete Tales Tutorials on the complete collection of over one hundred tales, novellas, and short stories.

    Full details of directors and actors, production features, film reviews, box office, and even quizzes.

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    Your email address will not be published. She destroys the woman, Charlotte, by not letting her ever know just who has done what to her. Schadenfreude is all—for Maggie if not for her inventor, James, as opposed to her pro-creator, Old Adam. Who, after all, is ignorant at the end? Only the victim, Charlotte. The other victim, Amerigo, knows all; and accepts fatalistically his servitude.

    Who then are left? Father and daughter. But, as I demonstrated, Old Adam so worked it out that when Maggie signals him or does he signal her first? This is the marvelous ambiguity of the book , he exerts total force, removing Charlotte from the scene in order that Maggie—not Love—may triumph.

    But The Golden Bowl is neither Tosca nor a prothalamion. It is a story radiant with the art of a master fulfilled; and dark with the profound knowledge of how force is motor to all our lives. Facebook Twitter RSS.