With an Introduction by Nicola Bradbury, University of Reading. The
Wings of the Dove is a tale of desire and possession, of love and
death. It is in essence a simple story, but one that opens up the
great subject of art: life itself. To tackle this, James moves
between fairytale storylines and the startlingly modern techniques
of his testing late style. An unspeakable subtext lies beneath the
silence. Distinct points of view and different centres of
consciousness betray the dislocation of the social facade from the
desolation beneath. For all the familiar signs, there is a gulf
between glamour and the underlying threat of loss. The eternal
triangle of romance is played out here like a game on an
international stage for the very highest stakes. It centres on 'the
dying girl who wants to live - to live and love.' But those closest
to her are in competition for what she can leave behind. Milly
Theale, 'the heiress of all the ages', is imaged as a dove, a
princess, a Renaissance beauty, but these symbols come at a
dreadful cost. By the end of the novel we know, 'We shall never be
again as we were!'
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