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About the Author
Kristin Boudreau is Professor of English at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Megan Stoner Morgan is a doctoral student specializing in nineteenth-century American and British fiction at the University of Georgia.
Date of Birth:April 15, 1843
Date of Death:February 28, 1916
Place of Birth:New York, New York
Place of Death:London, England
Education:Attended school in France and Switzerland; Harvard Law School, 1862-63
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By Henry James
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2016 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.
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At the little town of Vevey, in Switzerland, there is a particularly comfortable hotel. There are, indeed, many hotels, for the entertainment of tourists is the business of the place, which, as many travelers will remember, is seated upon the edge of a remarkably blue lake — a lake that it behooves every tourist to visit. The shore of the lake presents an unbroken array of establishments of this order, of every category, from the "grand hotel" of the newest fashion, with a chalk-white front, a hundred balconies, and a dozen flags flying from its roof, to the little Swiss pension of an elder day, with its name inscribed in German-looking lettering upon a pink or yellow wall and an awkward summerhouse in the angle of the garden. One of the hotels at Vevey, however, is famous, even classical, being distinguished from many of its upstart neighbors by an air both of luxury and of maturity. In this region, in the month of June, American travelers are extremely numerous; it may be said, indeed, that Vevey assumes at this period some of the characteristics of an American watering place. There are sights and sounds which evoke a vision, an echo, of Newport and Saratoga. There is a flitting hither and thither of "stylish" young girls, a rustling of muslin flounces, a rattle of dance music in the morning hours, a sound of high-pitched voices at all times. You receive an impression of these things at the excellent inn of the "Trois Couronnes" and are transported in fancy to the Ocean House or to Congress Hall. But at the "Trois Couronnes," it must be added, there are other features that are much at variance with these suggestions: neat German waiters, who look like secretaries of legation; Russian princesses sitting in the garden; little Polish boys walking about held by the hand, with their governors; a view of the sunny crest of the Dent du Midi and the picturesque towers of the Castle of Chillon.
I hardly know whether it was the analogies or the differences that were uppermost in the mind of a young American, who, two or three years ago, sat in the garden of the "Trois Couronnes," looking about him, rather idly, at some of the graceful objects I have mentioned. It was a beautiful summer morning, and in whatever fashion the young American looked at things, they must have seemed to him charming. He had come from Geneva the day before by the little steamer, to see his aunt, who was staying at the hotel — Geneva having been for a long time his place of residence. But his aunt had a headache — his aunt had almost always a headache — and now she was shut up in her room, smelling camphor, so that he was at liberty to wander about. He was some seven-and-twenty years of age; when his friends spoke of him, they usually said that he was at Geneva "studying." When his enemies spoke of him, they said — but, after all, he had no enemies; he was an extremely amiable fellow, and universally liked. What I should say is, simply, that when certain persons spoke of him they affirmed that the reason of his spending so much time at Geneva was that he was extremely devoted to a lady who lived there — a foreign lady — a person older than himself. Very few Americans — indeed, I think none — had ever seen this lady, about whom there were some singular stories. But Winterbourne had an old attachment for the little metropolis of Calvinism; he had been put to school there as a boy, and he had afterward gone to college there — circumstances which had led to his forming a great many youthful friendships. Many of these he had kept, and they were a source of great satisfaction to him.
After knocking at his aunt's door and learning that she was indisposed, he had taken a walk about the town, and then he had come in to his breakfast. He had now finished his breakfast; but he was drinking a small cup of coffee, which had been served to him on a little table in the garden by one of the waiters who looked like an attaché. At last he finished his coffee and lit a cigarette. Presently a small boy came walking along the path — an urchin of nine or ten. The child, who was diminutive for his years, had an aged expression of countenance, a pale complexion, and sharp little features. He was dressed in knickerbockers, with red stockings, which displayed his poor little spindle-shanks; he also wore a brilliant red cravat. He carried in his hand a long alpenstock, the sharp point of which he thrust into everything that he approached — the flowerbeds, the garden benches, the trains of the ladies' dresses. In front of Winterbourne he paused, looking at him with a pair of bright, penetrating little eyes.
"Will you give me a lump of sugar?" he asked in a sharp, hard little voice — a voice immature and yet, somehow, not young.
Winterbourne glanced at the small table near him, on which his coffee service rested, and saw that several morsels of sugar remained. "Yes, you may take one," he answered; "but I don't think sugar is good for little boys."
This little boy stepped forward and carefully selected three of the coveted fragments, two of which he buried in the pocket of his knickerbockers, depositing the other as promptly in another place. He poked his alpenstock, lance-fashion, into Winterbourne's bench and tried to crack the lump of sugar with his teeth.
"Oh, blazes; it's har-r-d!" he exclaimed, pronouncing the adjective in a peculiar manner.
Winterbourne had immediately perceived that he might have the honor of claiming him as a fellow countryman. "Take care you don't hurt your teeth," he said, paternally.
"I haven't got any teeth to hurt. They have all come out. I have only got seven teeth. My mother counted them last night, and one came out right afterward. She said she'd slap me if any more came out. I can't help it. It's this old Europe. It's the climate that makes them come out. In America they didn't come out. It's these hotels."
Winterbourne was much amused. "If you eat three lumps of sugar, your mother will certainly slap you," he said.
"She's got to give me some candy, then," rejoined his young interlocutor. "I can't get any candy here — any American candy. American candy's the best candy."
"And are American little boys the best little boys?" asked Winterbourne.
"I don't know. I'm an American boy," said the child.
"I see you are one of the best!" laughed Winterbourne.
"Are you an American man?" pursued this vivacious infant. And then, on Winterbourne's affirmative reply — "American men are the best," he declared.
His companion thanked him for the compliment, and the child, who had now got astride of his alpenstock, stood looking about him, while he attacked a second lump of sugar. Winterbourne wondered if he himself had been like this in his infancy, for he had been brought to Europe at about this age.
"Here comes my sister!" cried the child in a moment. "She's an American girl."
Winterbourne looked along the path and saw a beautiful young lady advancing. "American girls are the best girls," he said cheerfully to his young companion.
"My sister ain't the best!" the child declared. "She's always blowing at me."
"I imagine that is your fault, not hers," said Winterbourne. The young lady meanwhile had drawn near. She was dressed in white muslin, with a hundred frills and flounces, and knots of pale-colored ribbon. She was bareheaded, but she balanced in her hand a large parasol, with a deep border of embroidery; and she was strikingly, admirably pretty. "How pretty they are!" thought Winterbourne, straightening himself in his seat, as if he were prepared to rise.
The young lady paused in front of his bench, near the parapet of the garden, which overlooked the lake. The little boy had now converted his alpenstock into a vaulting pole, by the aid of which he was springing about in the gravel and kicking it up not a little.
"Randolph," said the young lady, "what are you doing?"
"I'm going up the Alps," replied Randolph. "This is the way!" And he gave another little jump, scattering the pebbles about Winterbourne's ears.
"That's the way they come down," said Winterbourne.
"He's an American man!" cried Randolph, in his little hard voice.
The young lady gave no heed to this announcement, but looked straight at her brother. "Well, I guess you had better be quiet," she simply observed.
It seemed to Winterbourne that he had been in a manner presented. He got up and stepped slowly toward the young girl, throwing away his cigarette. "This little boy and I have made acquaintance," he said, with great civility. In Geneva, as he had been perfectly aware, a young man was not at liberty to speak to a young unmarried lady except under certain rarely occurring conditions; but here at Vevey, what conditions could be better than these? — a pretty American girl coming and standing in front of you in a garden. This pretty American girl, however, on hearing Winterbourne's observation, simply glanced at him; she then turned her head and looked over the parapet, at the lake and the opposite mountains. He wondered whether he had gone too far, but he decided that he must advance farther, rather than retreat. While he was thinking of something else to say, the young lady turned to the little boy again.
"I should like to know where you got that pole," she said.
"I bought it," responded Randolph.
"You don't mean to say you're going to take it to Italy?"
"Yes, I am going to take it to Italy," the child declared.
The young girl glanced over the front of her dress and smoothed out a knot or two of ribbon. Then she rested her eyes upon the prospect again. "Well, I guess you had better leave it somewhere," she said after a moment.
"Are you going to Italy?" Winterbourne inquired in a tone of great respect.
The young lady glanced at him again. "Yes, sir," she replied. And she said nothing more.
"Are you — a — going over the Simplon?" Winterbourne pursued, a little embarrassed.
"I don't know," she said. "I suppose it's some mountain. Randolph, what mountain are we going over?"
"Going where?" the child demanded.
"To Italy," Winterbourne explained.
"I don't know," said Randolph. "I don't want to go to Italy. I want to go to America."
"Oh, Italy is a beautiful place!" rejoined the young man.
"Can you get candy there?" Randolph loudly inquired.
"I hope not," said his sister. "I guess you have had enough candy, and mother thinks so too."
"I haven't had any for ever so long — for a hundred weeks!" cried the boy, still jumping about.
The young lady inspected her flounces and smoothed her ribbons again; and Winterbourne presently risked an observation upon the beauty of the view. He was ceasing to be embarrassed, for he had begun to perceive that she was not in the least embarrassed herself. There had not been the slightest alteration in her charming complexion; she was evidently neither offended nor flattered. If she looked another way when he spoke to her, and seemed not particularly to hear him, this was simply her habit, her manner. Yet, as he talked a little more and pointed out some of the objects of interest in the view, with which she appeared quite unacquainted, she gradually gave him more of the benefit of her glance; and then he saw that this glance was perfectly direct and unshrinking. It was not, however, what would have been called an immodest glance, for the young girl's eyes were singularly honest and fresh. They were wonderfully pretty eyes; and, indeed, Winterbourne had not seen for a long time anything prettier than his fair countrywoman's various features — her complexion, her nose, her ears, her teeth. He had a great relish for feminine beauty; he was addicted to observing and analyzing it; and as regards this young lady's face he made several observations. It was not at all insipid, but it was not exactly expressive; and though it was eminently delicate, Winterbourne mentally accused it — very forgivingly — of a want of finish. He thought it very possible that Master Randolph's sister was a coquette; he was sure she had a spirit of her own; but in her bright, sweet, superficial little visage there was no mockery, no irony. Before long it became obvious that she was much disposed toward conversation. She told him that they were going to Rome for the winter — she and her mother and Randolph. She asked him if he was a "real American"; she shouldn't have taken him for one; he seemed more like a German — this was said after a little hesitation — especially when he spoke. Winterbourne, laughing, answered that he had met Germans who spoke like Americans, but that he had not, so far as he remembered, met an American who spoke like a German. Then he asked her if she should not be more comfortable in sitting upon the bench which he had just quitted. She answered that she liked standing up and walking about; but she presently sat down. She told him she was from New York State — "if you know where that is." Winterbourne learned more about her by catching hold of her small, slippery brother and making him stand a few minutes by his side.
"Tell me your name, my boy," he said.
"Randolph C. Miller," said the boy sharply. "And I'll tell you her name;" and he leveled his alpenstock at his sister.
"You had better wait till you are asked!" said this young lady calmly.
"I should like very much to know your name," said Winterbourne.
"Her name is Daisy Miller!" cried the child. "But that isn't her real name; that isn't her name on her cards."
"It's a pity you haven't got one of my cards!" said Miss Miller.
"Her real name is Annie P. Miller," the boy went on.
"Ask him his name," said his sister, indicating Winterbourne.
But on this point Randolph seemed perfectly indifferent; he continued to supply information with regard to his own family. "My father's name is Ezra B. Miller," he announced. "My father ain't in Europe; my father's in a better place than Europe."
Winterbourne imagined for a moment that this was the manner in which the child had been taught to intimate that Mr. Miller had been removed to the sphere of celestial reward. But Randolph immediately added, "My father's in Schenectady. He's got a big business. My father's rich, you bet!"
"Well!" ejaculated Miss Miller, lowering her parasol and looking at the embroidered border. Winterbourne presently released the child, who departed, dragging his alpenstock along the path. "He doesn't like Europe," said the young girl. "He wants to go back."
"To Schenectady, you mean?"
"Yes; he wants to go right home. He hasn't got any boys here. There is one boy here, but he always goes round with a teacher; they won't let him play."
"And your brother hasn't any teacher?" Winterbourne inquired.
"Mother thought of getting him one, to travel round with us. There was a lady told her of a very good teacher; an American lady — perhaps you know her — Mrs. Sanders. I think she came from Boston. She told her of this teacher, and we thought of getting him to travel round with us. But Randolph said he didn't want a teacher traveling round with us. He said he wouldn't have lessons when he was in the cars. And we are in the cars about half the time. There was an English lady we met in the cars — I think her name was Miss Featherstone; perhaps you know her. She wanted to know why I didn't give Randolph lessons — give him 'instruction,' she called it. I guess he could give me more instruction than I could give him. He's very smart."
"Yes," said Winterbourne; "he seems very smart."
"Mother's going to get a teacher for him as soon as we get to Italy. Can you get good teachers in Italy?"
"Very good, I should think," said Winterbourne.
Excerpted from Daisy Miller by Henry James. Copyright © 2016 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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Table of Contents
Acknowledgements Introduction, Kristin Boudreau Henry James: A Brief Chronology A Note on the Text
Daisy Miller: A Study
Appendix A: Henry James on Daisy Miller
- From Henry James, Notebooks (11 November 1882)
- Eliza Lynn Linton, Letter to Henry James (1880)
- Henry James, Reply to Eliza Lynn Linton (1880)
- From Henry James, Preface to Daisy Miller (1909)
Appendix B: Literary and Artistic Influences
- From Lord Byron, “Manfred: A Dramatic Poem” (1817)
- From Henry James, Review of Victor Cherbuliez’s Paule Méré (October 1873)
- From Henry James, Unsigned Note on Velázquez’s “Portrait of Pope Innocent X” (November 1874)
Appendix C: Henry James and the Craft of Fiction
- From Henry James, Hawthorne (1879)
- From Walter Besant, The Art of Fiction (1884)
- From Henry James, “The Art of Fiction” (1884; revised 1888)
- From Henry James, Preface to The Portrait of a Lady (1908)
Appendix D: Contemporary Reviews of Daisy Miller (1878-82)
- From “Editor’s Easy Chair,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (June-November 1878)
- From The New York Times (10 November 1878)
- From Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (December 1878)
- From “Recent Novels,” The Nation (19 December 1878)
- From The North American Review (January 1879)
- From John Hay, “The Contributor’s Club,” Atlantic Monthly (March 1879)
- From William Dean Howells, Letter to James Russell Lowell (22 June 1879)
- From “New Books,” Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine (July-December 1879)
- From “Henry James, Jr.,” Century Magazine (November 1882)
Appendix E: Henry James and the Craft of Drama
- From Henry James, “The Parisian Stage,” The Nation (9 January 1873)
- From Henry James, “Tennyson’s Drama,” The Galaxy (September 1875)
- From James’s Letters and the Notebooks
- Letter to William James (6 February 1891)
- Letter to Elizabeth Lewis (15? December 1894)
- Letter to William and Alice James (29 December 1893)
- James, Notebooks (22 January 1899)
- From Henry James, “Note” to Theatricals: Second Series (1895)
- From Henry James, Preface to The Awkward Age (1908)
Appendix F: From Henry James, Daisy Miller: A Comedy in Three Acts (1883)
Appendix G: Contemporary Reviews of Daisy Miller: A Comedy in Three Acts (1883)
- From “Literary Notes,” The Independent (29 March 1883)
- From “Miscellaneous,” San Francisco Chronicle (30 September 1883)
- From “Daisy Miller as a Comedy,” Literary World (6 October 1883)
Appendix H: On Henry James’s Revisions
- William James, Letter to Henry James (4 May 1907)
- Max Beerbohm, “A Nightmare, Mr. Henry James Subpoenaed as Psychological Expert in a Cause Célèbre” (1908)
- Henry James, Letter to William James (17-18 October 1907)
- Parallel Texts from the 1879 and 1900 Editions of Daisy Miller
Appendix I: The Nineteenth-Century New Woman
- From Eliza Lynn Linton, The Girl of the Period and Other Social Essays (1868; reprinted 1883)
- From Eliza Lynn Linton, Modern Women and What Is Said of Them (1868; reprinted 1870)
- Henry James, Review of Modern Women and What Is Said of Them (22 October 1868)
- From Florence Hartley, The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness (1875)
- From From Lucy H. Hooper, “American Women Abroad,” The Galaxy (June 1876)
- From From Albert Rhodes, “Shall the American Girl Be Chaperoned?,” The Galaxy (October 1877)
Appendix J: Nineteenth-Century Travel
- From William Wetmore Story, Roba di Roma (1862)
- From From Alice A. Bartlett, “Some Pros and Cons of Travel Abroad,” Old and New (October 1871)
- From Henry James, “The Old Saint-Gothard: Leaves from a Note-book ” (22 October 1868)
- From “Preface,” Cook’s Tourist Handbook for Northern Italy (1875)
- From Switzerland, and the Adjacent Portions of Italy, Savoy, and the Tyrol: Handbook for Travellers (1877)
- Descriptions of Swiss Sights
- From Switzerland, and the Adjacent Portions of Italy, Savoy, and the Tyrol: Handbook for Travellers (1877)
- From Handbook for Travellers in Switzerland, and the Alps of Savoy and Piedmont (1867)
- Descriptions of Italian Sights and Challenges
- From Italy: A Handbook for Travellers (1893)
- From A Handbook of Rome and Its Environs (1873)
Appendix K: “Roman Fever”
- From Peter S. Townsend, M.D., An Account of the Yellow Fever, as it Prevailed in the City of New York, in the Summer and Autumn of 1822 (1823)
- From Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle (1839)
- From Florence Nightingale, Notes on Nursing: What It Is, and What It Is Not (22 October 1868)
- “Miasma,” from A Dictionary of Medical Science (1895)
Appendix L: Daisy Miller and the Tradition of Pragmatism
- From Charles Sanders Peirce, “The Fixation of Belief,” Popular Science Monthly (November 1877)
- From William James, Pragmatism (1907)
- Henry James, Letter to William James (17 October 1907)
Works Cited and Recommended Reading
What People are Saying About This
"Everything about this edition commends it to instructors, students, and general readers alike. Kristin Boudreau's authoritative introduction provides an excellent orientation, no less for seasoned scholars than for students discovering Henry James. The text of the novella is well chosen—the 1879 Harper edition, capturing the freshness of James's early style (as opposed to the ornate 1909 revision), but with the benefit of James's revisions of the first magazine and book versions. Twelve appendices offer contemporary materials that cast strong and helpful lights on key aspects of James's art and of the literary and cultural contexts of this early masterpiece."
"Kristin Boudreau's fascinating and accessible introduction sets James's Daisy Miller in biographical, literary, historical, philosophical—and even medical—context. Appendices provide ample and well-chosen primary material, including selections focused on the nineteenth-century New Woman; the prevalence and treatment of 'Roman fever'; and James's literary and artistic influences, aims, and revisions. Anyone teaching James's popular novella will find Broadview's new edition a superb resource."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Daisy Miller is the contemporary of two different worlds. Daisy acts as the symbol of the United States. She is young, fresh and vividly beautiful. Her innocence comes forth her within the specter of her flamboyant flirty conversation. As compared to the Old world virtues, who mock her because of the "extravagance" of her actions. She is seen as uncultured and utterly poised in an unorthodox manner which is to some respect true. Daisy, though, is quick to express the solidarity of her independence and she refuses to conform to the thoughts that others perceive of her. Along comes Winterbourne, probably the tale's protagonist as the image of Daisy is of his opinion and the story is told through his perspective. Winterbourne seems organized and dignified as shown by his everlasting attempt to classify Miss Daisy Miller. He ultimately fails. At first he is captivated and exceptionally attracted to Daisy only to reject her ideals and then soon having to regret it. Daisy, is indeed unique, her unique blend of a personality throws Winterbourne of course which later causes him to deeply worry of her health. Mr. Giovanelli snatches Daisy's attention. A man of a questionable reputation we know nothing of him other than he is an Italian. As Winterbourne ponders on what kind of a person Daisy is, despite their misunderstandings, she ultimately falls ill. Upon her death we learn that she did understand Winterbourne's intentions after it seems like she hasn't. He then speaks to his aunt Mrs. Costello who had flatly rejected her nephew's request to meet with the Millers very early within the story. Although, Winterbourne is unsure of what to do he eventually decides to return to Geneva. The book is entailed with a scene in which different aspects of culture are to meet. A scenario of a very beautiful American girl and an American boy who has adopted European standards.
I have to read this book for my high school literature class and it was a great surprise of its brilliance.
I only recently started reading Henry James. I could not stand him in graduate school, when I was in my 20's, and never finished him when he was assigned, but twenty years on, I find much to enjoy in his work. I suspect he may be someone you have to grow into; I don't think he has much to say to the young; one needs more life experience before he can be appreciated. But why shouldn't living long come with a few rewards?Daisy Miller may be a good case in point. The main character, Mr. Winterbourne, meets young Miss Miller on one of those protracted vacations wealthy people in 19th century novels so often take. Mr. Winterbourne is at once taken in by Daisy's beauty and by her vivacity; she has a great lust for life and no self-conscienceness to hinder her. Daisy unknowingly breaks all the rules of her society in her search for experience. She does not know what she is doing, but she does not seem to mind.The two separate and then meet up again in Rome where Mr. Winterbourne finds Daisy engaged in an affair of sorts with a gold-digging Italian man. Daisy has so offended society by this time that none of the other Americans abroad will have anything to do with her or her family. Mr. Winterbourne tries to get her to change her ways, to convince her that she should drop the Italian and rejoin the more proper society of her peers, but she refuses. She will have her way whether or not society approves.A friend of mine once told me that Henry James ends his stories with an almost throw-away line or two that seems to put everything that went on up to then in a completely new light. That is the case with Daisy Miller, so though I really want to talk about the ending, I won't spoil it. I will say that I think it also supports my belief that one should wait before reading Henry James. Had I read this "throwaway" ending when I was 20, I would have been outraged at the hypocrasy Mr. Winterbourne displays. Now, I understand why he would do what he does, though it goes against what he has said up to then.My favorite character in Daisy Miller, my favorite in Henry James so far, is Mr. Winterbourne's aunt, Mrs. Costello. Here is her opinion of the Miller family:"They are hopelessly vulgar," said Mrs. Costello. "Whether or no being hopelessly vulgar is being 'bad' is a question for the metaphysicians. They are bad enough to dislike, at any rate; and for this short life that is quite enough."I think if I had read a line like that when I was 20 I would have come to at least dislike Mrs. Costello and possibly Henry James. Now, even though I realize she would certainly have nothing to do with me, I find her very funny. I've certainly moved away from Daisy's age towards Mrs. Costello's age and that has added to my understanding and appreciation of Henry James. Though I spend much of my time reading Young Adult fiction, I'm pleased to find something written with an older audience in mind. If you are under 35 and haven't read Henry James yet, I recommend waiting. Save a few treats for yourself later in life. You won't regret it. It's nice to discover something new, especially when it is also something old.
A very short, sweet book with themes very common to Henry James' work. Although this is one of his better-known stories, I find it a little less interesting than that of [The Tragic Muse]. Perhaps because it is a short story, James tried to make it more transparent. There is some lovely symbolism and a wonderful description of setting in Rome, but the story is short and told from the point of view from a man who has no significant character structure. Henry James is a master of the written word, but his other works are more intense, more ambiguous, and therefore more rewarding than this work.
A flirtatious and vacuous American girl meets a European gentlemen. The girl is ultimately destroyed by her own frivolity and innocence. To me, this story is allegorical, with implications far broader than it first appears. Classic Henry James. Recommended.
A novella only 48 pages long. This is an odd little book. Written in 1878 it chronicles a young American girl¿s willful yet innocent flirtation with a young Italian. She is outgoing and flirtatious and refuses to change her ways in order to fit into a culture and society to which she does not belong.I understand that, for its time, it reflected absolutely scandalous behaviour on the part of this young woman and yet for today's time Daisy's behaviour is quite 'normal'.As a social commentary, it doesn't fit with contemporary situations and yet is a very sad reflection on the concept of arrogance on behalf of those who believe that they are the arbiters of 'good behavoiur'. There are many today who would criticize those that don't fit in instead of applauding them for being such free spirits.I can't say that this is going to go down in history as a great read but I am glad that I read it.
If you enjoy reading classic literature, you might consider giving Daisy Miller a try. James' eloquent writing style and study of cultural ideas make this a very entertaining read. James looks closely at the culture of 19th century Americans on holiday in Europe. The narration makes for a very good window into the attitudes and opinions of the upper class at the time and the perceived differences between those with "old money" and those with "new money."For the most part, this is a light read. It does contain a few dark moments, and in the end the main character really does not exhibit any real growth. All in all, I found it to be interesting and enjoyed James' humor throughout. He has a very nice way of poking fun at some of the conventions of the time while managing to make these things seem of import to his characters. This infuses the story with the life that it needs to keep the reader interested enough to keep reading.
Daisy Miller is the story of a naive young woman and the head-over-heels man who chases her. Daisy is an interesting character who seems to be way before her time. In her society, her vivaciousness, recklessness and trust in strangers earns her the scorn of the well-to-do. In today's world, Daisy would be a youtube star and have her own reality dating show. Yet unlike today's 15 minutes of fame seekers, Daisy has an innocence about her that leads her to be unable to comprehend why her behavior should bother anybody. The novella strongly suggests that she is the result of bad breeding, through the character of a dotty, unconcerned and helpless mother and an absent father.The novella's hero, Winterbourne, comes off like the disillusioned lover who suffers under the whims of Daisy. However, it is interesting to note that the beginning and end of the novel finds him rumored to have women on the side. Even Daisy deduces in Vevey that he has another women. Whether Henry James recognized this double standard is difficult to say. Winterbourne's aunt does lament that men can walk about the streets alone but women cannot, yet she does not question this doctrine. It seems the author frowns upon Daisy's behavior, judging by the fate he prescribed for her, having her die while realizing her folly. Yet Winterbourne has no growth at the end; he is back to where he started, adrift in Geneva. I think Daisy's ultimate folly is her lack of cleverness. She is too open to hide what she thinks and feels, which works against her. Others try desperately to warn her, but she sees no sense in denying herself fun and pleasure. It is interesting that while she doesn't "get" society, she still hurts from realizing that she has been completely cut off from it. A clever girl would have been discrete, but Daisy is too open for that. It is clear after being introduced to her family that she was not raised with any sense of propriety and education. Thus, it is hard to completely condemn her, when her earnestness keeps her chaming, and away from being a succubus.Winterbourne comes off as immature as Daisy, yet he escapes unscathed, perhaps because he gets reeled back into society when he casts off his obsessive love. The character is not as fleshed out as, say Age of Innocence's Archer, but goes through the same repressed emotions. Like Archer, Winterbourne has a taboo love for one unacceptable to society, and gives her up to remain a respected part of that society. But unlike Archer, Winterbourne is flat and only seems to come alive when around the Millers in Vevey. In Rome, he becomes an obsessed, jealous version of his Vevey self, but still Daisy's defender until his run-in with her at the Coliseum. After Daisy's death, he becomes flat again. Condemn Daisy as her society or author might, she has this power to bring Winterbourne (whom she rightfully called "dull") alive.What to make of her recklessness, then? Having her succumb to the fever after realizing Winterbourne is no longer her admirer seems awfully dramatic and soap opera-ish. It seems to say that once you are fully cut off from society, you might as well die. This suggests that Daisy's independence was only sustainable if there were admirers around her. Perhaps, like a flower, she thrived on love and positive emotions. These things taken away, she finally shriveled up and died.
Daisy is a free spirited American on vacation in Europe. Her would be suitor is the urbane Winterbourne. Daisy carefree ways are frowned upon in Europe. Henry James' novella about society and manners is still relevant, if a little pessimistic. Who suffers more the one who breaks with convention or the one who follows society's norms? You'll enjoy having to read this story for the answer.
The story's easy to follow. A young American girl in the late 1800s who is new to money does not understand society's rules. She flirts and openly goes around with strange men of unknown origins. She cares little for her own reputation. Winterbourne finds her pretty and is instantly attracted to her. When she pushes the boundaries, he shoves right back. In the end, Daisy pays the price. In a society where the double standards favor men, Daisy is punished by the author for being reckless. Winterbourne? He gets off with no harm done to his person. Typical.I liked this story. It was fun and easy. The story was told from Winterbourne's point of view, so it was hard to tell if Daisy was just ignorant of the rules or if she was purposely flaunting them. I personally thought she was ignorant and the "mystery behind Daisy Miller" was just a fantasy Winterbourne forced upon her image. Who knows?All in all, I liked this story!
Not my favorite James, but I enjoyed it. The ending is beautiful and sad.
I believe I thought about this book more after reading than I did while enjoying it.
I enjoyed most of this novel while I was reading, and I think that the writing is technically proficient. The end was a great disappointment, and left me wondering why I spend the time reading this mercifully short piece. At least I can say that I've read some of Henry James. My first problem with the book may be the result of not understanding the time period. I am not certain how Americans expected young women to behave, although I understand that their customs were much less restrictive than Europeans. I therefore don't know whether Daisy is rebellious, or reckless, or simply behaving in a manner that she understands to be suitable and many Europeans (American Euro-wannabees) misinterprete. Is the problem just that Winterbourne and Daisy don't understand each other's cultural assumptions, or that he is really reacting to Daisy's personality? Given the reactions of some of the Europeans, is Winterbourne following their codes of behavior more stringently than they do, perhaps fawning on Europeans by an excessive zeal to prove that he is like them? I am therefore at a loss to understand what point Miller is trying to make. Is the issue really the virtues of one set of social customs over another, or is it just the difficulties that arise from misunderstanding? I give this 3 stars rather than 2 because it might have made sense if I were reading it when it was written. My other problem may be idiosyncratic: THIS IS A SPOILER. I have little sympathy for anyone foolish enough to "die for love", especially a brief romance. Winterbourne and Daisy obviously aren't suited for each other, and the solution is to move on, not become suicidal. I really don't see their incompatibility as a moral issue on either side. If Winterbourne really can't respect Daisy then he does well not to become seriously involved with her. If he is stuffy and priggish, well, that's how he is and he should choose a compatible wife. When it comes to a serious commitment like marriage, it is necessary to acknowledge how one really is, not delude oneself about how one ought to be. If James' point, as reviewers seem to indicate, is to expose the difference between European and USA manners, the story is not well-constructed, since Daisy's critics are mostly expat Americans; real Europeans are more tolerant of her. The ending seems a bit bizarre. Such misunderstandings have been the basis of comedies of manners or novels of personal angst, but the ending to this novel is too melodramatic and contrived. In Jane Austen: Women, Politics, and the Novel, Claudia Johnson has some acerbic things to say about the tradition of killing off women disappointed in love. Does James mean to criticize Winterbourne? It would have been more satisfying (and reasonable) if Winterbourne later realized what a fool he had been when he meets up with the happily married, brilliant hostess Daisy Marriedname, famous beauty and wit, perhaps married to a real European who finds her refreshing.
i really loved the plot, probably that i've been through the same thing that Winterbourne ben through. fascinating novel honestly. i could relate to this story without no doubt. After reading this i felt so weird, that one my life years is written in book with just different characters. thank you james for writing my favorite novel all time.
A lovely novella which hints at the great writer James would become. Like all great literature, its theme rings very true today. A fun read.
This short story is an excellent representation of the struggle between cultures and what one must do to survive in this predicament. Daisy is an example of a lady with much character to which one should strive to live up to. Whether one is looking for a short story to enjoy, or to critique the means of cultural existence, they will find Daisy Miller, by Henry James, an excellent choice.
Henry James is a literary genius and this novella expresses love, innocence, society, and inner turmoil within eighty pages that are saturated with real feeling.
daisy is honest,fresh and open and her heart is pure.the reason Daisy,has nothing in common with her fellow American is because they subscribe to European way of looking at life.