The Sacred Hush: Death, Elegy, and The Wings of the Dove

  • Hazel Hutchison


Publication dates can be misleading. Although The Ambassadors was published in 1903, James wrote it in 1900–1901. Publication in book format was held up by a long and, according to James, “vulgar” serialization in The North American Review (Letters IV, 215). In the intervening months, he wrote and published The Wings of the Dove, which appeared without serialization in August 1902. James was eager to dispatch the earlier novel in order to get on with the task currently absorbing his imagination. He wrote to his sister-in-law: “I feel as if the ghost of the unwritten book would interpose between me and all the pyramids and temples, and as if I should rather ‘eat my heart out’ over the delay” (IV, 167). Barely a week after finishing The Ambassadors in July 1901, James claims to be “well launched” on his new novel, which has clearly been germinating for a long time (IV, 194). His notebooks show that the idea for The Wings of the Dove was at least seven years old.


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© Hazel Hutchison 2006

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  • Hazel Hutchison

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