2011: 34. The Golden Bowl

“The Prince had always liked his London, when it had come to him; he was one of the Modern Romans who find by the Thames a more convincing image of the truth of the ancient state than any they have left by the Tiber.”

The Golden Bowl, Henry James

         Three down, one to go-Modern Library, James-wise.  Which is a little unfair, because, as always, once I got through the book, I appreciated it quite a bit (which is always the way when I read James).  But it is such an effort to get to that point, especially with his three later masterpieces.    Nonetheless, once I plowed through the James-ness of it all, I did really like The Golden Bowl.   What I loved about it is how it plays with your perception of the characters.  We start “rooting” (for lack of a better word) for the poor characters - the Italian prince and the American girl Charlotte Stant, and end up on the side of the rich characters they marry - Adam Verver and his daughter Maggie.  It’s such a fun soapy plot buried under all that Henry (just like The Wings of the Dove), treated with utmost seriousness, that it’s really marvelous.  And even though the introduction to my book treats Maggie like a monster (but by Gore Vidal, which might explain why), I think she’s marvelous.  The ways in which she comes to actualization, and sacrifices her father for her husband (grows up, in other words) is tremendously interesting, and worth rooting through all the stultifying Henry James sentences to get to.  

Categories:  Fiction, Modern Library Top 100

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017