Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*London. Great Britain’s capital is the home of most of the novel’s main characters. Most of its scenes are set within the homes of Adam and Charlotte Verver, Prince Amerigo and Maggie, and, less frequently, their friends Bob and Fanny Assingham. James provides little description of these interior spaces, but instead focuses almost exclusively on the contents of the characters’ thoughts. As is typical of James’s later novels, the characters do not voice their most important thoughts and learn, not from hearing, but from seeing one another. Long passages detailing their thoughts contain much of the motivation for the plot development. The reader is typically reminded of where a passage is set after the passage has begun.

The setting in London is significant because it is the true home of neither the Ververs nor Prince Amerigo. The Ververs are free of Adam’s business and financial and business concerns; the prince is free of family and aristocratic tradition.

*Bloomsbury Street

*Bloomsbury Street. London street that is the location of the shop in which Charlotte and the prince—and later Maggie—find the golden bowl of the novel’s title. Here, Maggie learns that her husband spent time with Charlotte on their wedding day; from this information, she comes to understand that they had been much more intimate than she had realized.


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(The entire section is 584 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Edel, Leon. Henry James: A Life. 1st ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1985. Abridged version of Edel’s standard biography of James. Comments on the genesis of The Golden Bowl and explains its subtle relationship to the author’s life. Briefly sketches portraits of major characters.

Gard, Roger, ed. Henry James: The Critical Heritage. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968. Excerpts from reviews by British and American writers that provide an overview of the reception given to The Golden Bowl by James’s contemporaries. Most cite James’s skill in storytelling, though some note the complexities of style that make reading difficult.

Jones, Granville H. Henry James’s Psychology of Experience: Innocence, Responsibility, and Renunciation in the Fiction of Henry James. The Hague: Mouton, 1975. Focuses on James’s portrait of the heroine of The Golden Bowl, Maggie Verver. Discusses several important scenes in which she gradually learns the nature of the relationship between Prince Amerigo and Charlotte and explains how she achieves a moral victory.

Macnaughton, William R. Henry James: The Later Novels. Boston: Twayne, 1987. In a chapter analyzing The Golden Bowl, Macnaughton comments on the genesis of the work and the influences that shaped James’s tale. Characterizes the novel as a study in the folly of goodness and offers a careful explication of key scenes.

Sicker, Philip. Love and the Quest for Identity in the Fiction of Henry James. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1980. Includes a chapter on The Golden Bowl that explores James’s ability to create “multipersonal love relationships.” Describes parallels between the novel and the traditional fairy tale, which provides a symbolic framework for the story.