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The Golden Bowl

Henry James

Book Overview: 

The Golden Bowl is a novel by Henry James. Set in England, this complex, intense study of marriage and adultery completes what some critics have called the “major phase” of James’ career. The Golden Bowl explores the tangle of interrelationships between a father and daughter and their respective spouses. The novel focuses deeply and almost exclusively on the consciousness of the central characters, with sometimes obsessive detail but also with powerful insight.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .may be added, would have been his intensest perception had there not, the next instant, been more for him in Fanny Assingham. Her face couldn't keep it from him; she had seen, on top of everything, in her quick way, what they both were seeing.

IX

So much mute communication was doubtless, all this time, marvellous, and we may confess to having perhaps read into the scene, prematurely, a critical character that took longer to develop. Yet the quiet hour of reunion enjoyed that afternoon by the father and the daughter did really little else than deal with the elements definitely presented to each in the vibration produced by the return of the church-goers. Nothing allusive, nothing at all insistent, passed between them either before or immediately after luncheon—except indeed so far as their failure soon again to meet might be itself an accident charged with reference. The hour or two after luncheon—and on Sundays with . . . Read More

Community Reviews

For a man who was never married nor, to the best of my knowledge, was ever in a long-term relationship with a woman, Henry James has written a novel that drills down deep into the heart of the dynamics of marriage and relationships between the sexes. While a stoutly thick novel, it largely swings...more

I am re-reading the mature James right now and have found The Golden Bowl an ethereal experience. James' use of words as well as his deliberate failure to say things and still communicate epiphany after epiphany is staggering. The sentences fall into one's mind like honey and their sense is as ga...more

Am still seeking words for the experience of reading The Golden Bowl. Less "fun" than Wings of the Dove, more serious in manner. Chilling. Yet, oddly, the one James novel that could be counted as having a "happy" ending. As often with James, there is the fascination of watching the movements of a...more

Book Review
It is difficult to give a low review to one of your favorite authors. And I've read this book twice. But it barely changed me upon a second read. Somewhere between a 2 and a 3, this book has many great moments; however, it's also very disconnected, almost as those there are several...more

ETA:

Well, Henry James was either a freaking genius totally beyond the praise or criticism of lowly, unworthy readers, like yours truly
OR
a self-indulgent, pompous ass and I, for one, am still yearning for a chance to be able to travel back in time and throw this book at his self-indulgent, pomp...more

The Golden Bowl is a wonderful novel. Through his usual beautiful but convoluted and sinuous prose that swims around itself again and again, Henry James tells us the story of four people, two men and two women, and two marriages. These two marriages, whose essence holds secrets and truths, is t...more

Henry, I love you, but get to the freakin’ point!

I like a long, baroque, convoluted, labyrinthine sentence as much as the next guy and usually enjoy unpacking the types of twisty phrases and syntax James is known for, along with coaxing out the meaning of said sentences that illustrate complex ch...more

He tried, too clearly, to please her – to meet her in her own way; but with the result only that, close to her, her face kept before him, his hands holding her shoulders, his whole act enclosing her, he presently echoed: ‘ “See”? I see nothing but you.’
This late work (1904) of James is one repl...more

So far typical James plotting and manipulation
Even if James' opinion of women wasn't well know, it would easily be determined by the behavior of his female characters-conniving, meddling, shallower
The most enjoyable chapters include the discussions of the guilelessness of the couples between Col...more

In this, the last of his final three major novels, James employs his characteristic inimitable and elliptical style, using long and complex syntax combined with nuanced half-thoughts and utterances that suggest rather than state, that allude to rather than demonstrate, that imply rather than asse...more

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