The sultry young people you see here are not the characters in Henry James’ The Wings of the Dove, but stand-ins for them in the movie by that name.
I have trouble with this book and with James’ later work generally. The story — two ambitious but poor young lovers set out to deceive a rich, dying girl — has a moral center. But James keeps flaking off from that center with paragraph after opaque paragraph. Events and our response to them start to move only when we get some dialog, much of which is also unnecessarily convoluted. I use the term “unnecessarily” advisedly. The complex language perhaps suggests the complexity and ambiguities of the human heart, but it disheartens my poor heart.
He was so slow that she took him up. ‘Awful?’ A sound of impatience — the form of a laugh — at last escaped her. ‘I can’t find it anything at all till I know what you’re talking about.
What the it is that she can’t find has been forgotten by now, as it must have been stated or suggested several ambiguities back.
Would someone would please take his adverbs away:
…as if precisely not to speak with impatience….
…he appeared oddly to catch at it.
…he a trifle vaguely explained….
…the back and shoulders he thus familiarly presented….
And these are on just one page! And, also, restrict the use of the adjectives stupendous and momentous and magnificent. We get the point, Henry.