Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Bad Marketing of the Classics, Example #3456

If you pick up a Henry James novel, there's always a glassy-eyed frozen-looking Sargent chick on the cover. Yes, I know Sargent women don't really look like that; but they do on Penguin covers, for some reason. Your basic impression, after reading the blurb, is that a)Americans (much richer and idler than you'll ever be) will suffer and b)This is probably going to be about as painful as a month in Death Valley with nothing to read but Silas Marner.

But heck, I couldn't evade Henry-bloody-James forever. (Terry Teachout's been making me feel guilty about it.) So I picked up The Wings of the Dove on CD down at the library. The prose is not quite as bad as I expected (readers are a great aid in this respect). But the plot! The plot is positively operatic!

So here's the lowdown. No frozen-faced chick. You've got one penniless but smart English woman, her true love the reporter, and her scheming rich aunt who doesn't want her to marry the guy. You've got one rich but sick American woman, who's best friends with the English chick, and rather likes the same guy; and the lady looking after her, whose old best friend was the scheming aunt.

I'm telling you, this is good stuff. Professor Moriarty has met his match. AND THEY'VE BEEN HIDING THIS FROM ME!

(Oh, but you must read James for his...understanding of the rich expatriate's sad lot in life. And his 'psychological skill'. Oh, yes, and his proooooose. Not to mention that frozen Sargent chick on the cover.)

Pah! At least so far, you should read James because he's fun!


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