Monday, 28 June 2010

Literary Cleanup, book #9



Daisy Miller - Henry James (free to read @ Project Gutenberg)

Another one bites the dust. Daisy Miller tells the story of the various encounters between Winterbourne, a classy american young man studying in Europe and the eponymous american girl who is...non-conventional to say the least. It's not the easiest of reads because the descriptions sometimes seem long-winded and almost pointless - how many times do you have to tell me that Daisy is the prettiest pretty that ever prettied? Also, I fail to see the charm in her, when, throughout the book, she just seems like an immature, volatile and hedonistic young lady. Sure, she's pretty, but every time someone characterized her as "innocent", I couldn't help by chuckle, because it seemed clear to me that her every word was calculated to provoke longing in the gentleman that surrounded her. Essentially, what I'm saying is...Daisy Miller is a cock-tease.
Note this, however: even though I didn't like her, and even though I think the only reason Winterbourne kept going to her despite being shut down every time was because he thought he could tame her and transform her into the perfect girl he imagined...I liked this. I liked the story, and I liked that the characters actually brought out a reaction in me, which speaks of James' style of writing, I think. Plus, much like Winterbourne, I was indeed intrigued by her real motives and how it would unfold in the end. If you like period pieces, then this is a good one to consider.

Excerpt:

Por um instante fez uma nova pausa; olhava para Winterbourne com toda a beleza dos seus olhos francos e alegres, o seu claro, se bem que um tanto uniforme, sorriso.

- Sempre tive muita vida social com cavalheiros - afirmou.

O pobre Winterbourne estava divertido e perplexo - acima de tudo estava encantado. Nunca ouvira uma única rapariga exprimir-se daquela maneira; ou, pelo menos, nunca senão nos casos em que dizer tais coisas correspondia a ter, ao mesmo tempo, uma assaz complicada consciência delas. E no entanto deveria ele acusar Miss Daisy Miller de um real ou potencial arrière-pensée, como se dizia em Genebra? Sentinu que tinha vivido durante tanto tempo em Genebra que acabara por ficar moralmente confuso; tinha perdido o sentido correcto do jovem tom americano.

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