Henry James' The Wings of the Dove

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Henry James' The Wings of the Dove

This paper will present briefly Henry James and his thoughts about the art of fiction that is presented by his same titled essay before thoroughly analyzing his novel: The Wings of the Dove. James’ ideas on his article The Art of Fiction will be applied to The Wings of the Dove and the narrative style that he uses will be indicated by certain quotations taken from the novel.

James had read classics of English, American, French, and German literature and Russian classics in translation. His models were Dickens, Balzac, and Hawthorne. Then, there is a harness of French, British, and American culture in his works. His first novel, Watch and Ward (1871) was written while he was travelling through Venice and Paris. James wrote novels that portrayed Americans living abroad during his first years in Europe. He is a very important literary figure both in American and British culture. However, he loves Europe and this fact gives us a clue about his interest in different cultures that come out as American characters traveling abroad in most of his novels. James’ approach to the civilization is presented as:

Henry James, at the other extreme, never ceased to regard America as essentially an outlying region of European, more specifically of Anglo-Saxon, civilization . . . Henry James was a patriot to his race, and his final transfer of citizenship, though immediately called forth by his sense of America’s procrastination in the World War, was but the outward sign of a temperamental repatriation already complete.1

In fact, the outbreak of World War I was a shock for James and in July 1915 he became a British citizen in protest against the U.S.’ refusal to enter the war. He was sensitive on n...

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