Classic: The Golden Bowl
- Author: Henry James
- Title: The Golden Bowl
- Published: 1904
- Genre: Novel of manners and morals
- Trivia: Nr 32 on Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels
- Trivia: List of Challenges 2018
- 2 marriages – 2 couples = 4 emotional roller coasters.
- The Prince’s fate has been sealed at 3 ‘o clock. at lawyers office.
- He is trapped in a marriage contract.
- “…something of the grimness of a crunched key in the strongest lock…”
- I can only cringe reading this omen in ch 1.
- The golden bowl is a metaphor for marriage. (foto)
- The bowl, not really “golden” at all…
- but crystal gilded with gold leaf.
- It has the superficial appearance of perfection.
- Crystal “It doesn’t break, it splits….
- Crystal does split, eh?
- On lines and by laws of its own.”
- Why it has a crack!
‘Per Dio, I’m superstitious! (Amerigo)
A crack is a crack…and an omen’s an omen.
…afraid for you marriage?’ (Charlotte) (ch 6)
- 1% into the book we read Amerigo’s warning to Maggie:
- “You see too much
- …that’s what may sometime make you difficulties.
- When you don’t, at least,…see too little.”
- 72% into the book we read…that Maggie discovers
- ….that Charlotte and her husband were lovers.
- “But surely you always knew they had met.” said Mrs Assingham.
- Charlotte: ” I didn’t understand. I knew too little.“
- This book was about a love triangle:
- Amerigo – Maggie (marriage)
- Amerigo – Charlotte (affair)
- James’ sentences do not flow.
- This makes the reading so irritating.
- Characters often ramble on and on
- …after the essence of the chapter was clear.
- Weak point: overwriting!!
- I could not bear reading the paperback filled with
- commas, convoluted sentences, repetitions.
- This book is long….and seems longer
- because it is 8o% descriptions (thoughts) – 20% dialogue.
- I decided to switch to the audio book.
- Hours of twirling and swirling words and
- finally James makes his point:
- Amerigo has secrets, Maggie sees him as ‘prize catch’
- …and ex-lover Charlotte arrives to attend the wedding.
- She uses veiled subtle remarks to spark Amerigo’s affection…again.
- This book contains no enchantment or
- beautiful metaphors ( …except crystal bowl…that was good).
- This book is a classic but James’ writing style
- …ruins the book for the average reader (me).
- I would never recommend it.
- Now I have read one Henry James book on
- …Modern Library’s top 100 novels list
- ...I am NOT going to read two more!
- I’m replacing the other Henry James books with guess who?
- Edith Wharton…my favorite!
- Narrator Simon Prebble is good but the Italian accent
- for the character Amerigo sounded forced, unnatural and contrived.
- After 25% of the book.…
- I skimmed the long, trivial descriptions
- I never would have finished the book without this strategy.
- Ironically Henry James uses so many words to describe houses,
- shop’s inventory, parks etc….
- and barely touches on Maggie’s wedding!
- 20% into the book I expected more attention to the marriage ceremony
- James mentions it in in one sentence!
- 6 sentences later Mr Verver is visiting his grandson!
- 31% into the book Mr. Verver’s marriage in one sentence:
- “…waiting to be rejoined by her (Charlotte) companion.”