Sara's Reviews > Daisy Miller

Daisy Miller by Henry James
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's review
Mar 03, 2011

it was amazing
Recommended to Sara by: Azar Nafisi
Recommended for: those who like subtlety & have patience to imagine times past
Read 2 times. Last read March 2, 2011 to March 3, 2011.

** spoiler alert ** This book is a small masterpiece. I read it years ago and was just irritated by Daisy, but this time I was inspired to read it by Azar Nafisi's wonderful discussion of it in Reading Lolita in Tehran. And sure enough, I found it marvelous. Not a word is wasted, the characters are finely drawn with empathy and without sentimentality.
Daisy is quite simply an American, with an appreciation for the value of every man, of whatever social status. She is, as Winterbourne perceives, "an odd mixture of audacity and puerility," and she sees no reason to do as the Romans do just because she is in Rome. Her strong-willed individuality and her basic niceness attract Winterbourne, and the fact that he is attracted shows that he's not as "stiff" as she accuses him of being.
It's all too easy to judge James's characters, but if you read carefully, you will notice that he paints them in more subtle colors, and that all have good and bad qualities.
Winterbourne only realizes after Daisy's death that her puzzling behavior meant that she cared for him, and that she was trying to make him jealous enough to kick over the traces and fight for her, in defiance of his social class. But in truth he has lived too long in Europe and has become too cautious to reveal his real feelings, or even to trust them, until it is too late.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
March 2, 2011 – Started Reading
March 3, 2011 – Shelved
March 3, 2011 –
March 3, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-2)

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Darcy I also felt that Daisy didn't have enough insight to change her manners in respose to a change in society from that with which she was familiar in Schenectedy, NY.

Sara True! It seems to be a theme in James - the lack of insight in some (not all) of his American characters and the lack of cultural flexibility. I was just noticing the same thing in The Pension Beaurepas...

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