Daisy Miller by Henry James

Daisy MillerDaisy Miller by Henry James

To condemn values of Victorian origin it is necessary to demonstrate that they cannot overcome some of their essential antagonisms. If a critique of questionable morals is the intention of this book, the second part is more vague, since it lacks any struggle worth struggling for. We get to meet a young woman without many redeeming qualities that lives only to charm man-kind. She fights for nothing but her right to annoy, which meets some reservations among others, readers as well. “All I want is a little fuss” she tells us and summarizes her motives.

If the author’s intention was to show that any person, no matter how superfluous she may be, deserves freedom and acceptance, it would be a wonderful book, with all the steady rhythm and clarity of style. But he seems to claim the opposite – all that lies under the petty social judgments are some innocent actions performed by harmless girls, and so such social standards are worthless. And although he tries to make a tragic hero out of her, he lets her stand out only in her poise, for her mind stays old-fashioned, as men remain her only interest. Maybe that’s how changes always form, first comes form and then comes the content. But I think it would be better if he just put less fantasy and more life into it.

29 Comments

  1. Very interesting comments! I’ve just finished reading this for my English degree (I’m taking a Victorian Literature module) and I’m looking forward to studying it 🙂

  2. Just read Daisy Miller and enjoyed the story as a critique of social stuffiness and hypocrisy, though I know what you mean about Daisy being a male creation. Will follow, thanks for following mine.

    • The story was quite pleasant yes, her decoration with all the girly qualities was not too painful.. It even sort of reminded me to M. Bovary, but I’m not a fan of that one neither:) Thanks for following!

  3. thank you for visiting my blog – am so happy its led me to you – it is rare to find people who read the classics 🙂

  4. Interesting comments – I reviewed ‘Portrait of a Lady’ recently and (though I haven’t read ‘Daisy Miller’) seems to me one might say some similar things about that one. I find James difficult.

    Thank you very much for the ‘follow’!

    • I haven’t read that one, but based on your review of it, they really have a lot in common, even the plot is almost the same.. I’m always happy when I meet someone with similar taste in books, so thank you for following back!:)

  5. I read it a while ago. Not my favourite of his. Have you read any of his other works?

  6. WOW. Thank you for the follow on my blog, and I have just entered a world of joy here. First per above: you can’t really go wrong with ANYTHING by Thomas Hardy. James is an acquired taste but once you get it it is hard to shake. Daisy Miller is an interesting character as you think about her over time. Just a warning……long sentences become a way of life. I look forward to more here; this is really wonderful.

    • That’s the biggest and kindest compliment I’ve got for my posts, thank you so much, it makes me want to read and write even more. Also thanks for the recommendations, I’ve heard from so many now that Hardy and James are worth digging into, so I will for sure do that!
      I find your website very interesting too, I appreciate what you’re doing and I will keep it in my mind for the next time I need skin products.

      • thank you! very much indeed! do
        keep reading and writing-you have a good awareness and it really makes your insights so fresh. which for a writer like james borders on the miraculous!

        • Thank you once again, it’s the first time I’m blushing in front of the computer. I hope you stay in touch and keep on with your work too – the world would not be in so much trouble if everyone would take as much care for the environment as you do.

  7. I’m glad to find a classic Victorian novel among your reviews! I get sucked into the style of these novels so much that I often have a hard time finding fault with the characters or plot, so it’s interesting to hear your (possibly more objective) take!

    “It lacks any struggle worth struggling for.” Great phase! You should trademark that. = )

    • Thank you again!:) But I think criticizing is easy, everything else is much harder.. These Victorian novels really have something to pull you into, maybe it’s this world of hidden desires that is just waiting to unfold right in front of you and that can be soo catchy!:)

  8. Hurrah, I’ve found another passionate reader. I’ll look forward to reading more of your blog. Muriel Kauffmann

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: