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The Age of Innocence ()


Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century (58)

Edith Wharton's Pulitzer Prize Winner is the story of Newland Archer, engaged & then married to May Welland, but in love with the disgraced Countess Ellen Olenska in 1870's New York City.  I was shocked by how much I liked this book the first time I read it; Wharton writes with a wonderful sly sense of humor.

Now I know that this must have been written as a sort of cautionary tale about how the rigid rules of upper crust society prevent Archer from pursuing his heart's desire and when Wharton wrote, it probably seemed to many that life would be better if we followed our hearts and not societal conventions.  But looking back with the benefit of a century of hindsight, I found myself nostalgic for a time when Society was capable of Outrage, individuals were subject to Shame and societal morays actually served as a bulwark against scandalous behavior.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A)

  

Websites:

Book-related and General Links:
    -The Edith Wharton Society Home Page
    -Edith Wharton Restoration
    -Edith Wharton's World (National Portrait Gallery)
    -Edith Wharton: an Overview with Biocritical Resources
    -Domestic Goddess: Edith Wharton
    -PAL: Edith Wharton (1862-1937)(PAL: Perspectives in American Literature:   A Research and Reference Guide)
    -The San Antonio College LitWeb Edith Wharton Page
    -Edith Wharton (Kutztown)
    -Wharton, Edith:  Ethan Frome (Medical Humanities)
    -Literary Research Guide: Edith Wharton (1862 - 1937)
    -ETEXTS: by Edith Wharton
        The House of Mirth (1905)
        Ethan Frome  By Edith Wharton  (1911)
    -ETEXTS: of Contemporary Reviews of Wharton's Works from the University of Virginia E-Text Center
    -TEACHING GUIDE: Edith Wharton (1862-1937)  Contributing Editor: Elizabeth Ammons
    -ESSAY: Edith Wharton's World: Portraits of People and Places (Stephen May, The Bee)
    -ESSAY: The New York That Wharton Turned Into Art (MICHAEL FRANK, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: In Search of Edith Wharton  (BARBARA SHOUP, NY Times)
    -ESSAY:  Summers in an Age of Innocence: In France With Edith Wharton  (Leon Edel, NY Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY: Streetscapes: Edith Wharton; In 'The Age of Innocence,' Fiction Was Not Truth (CHRISTOPHER GRAY, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: Wharton and the House of Scribner: The Novelist as a Pain in the Neck (Marc Aronson, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: Filming Edith Wharton's World: You Were How You Ate (JIM KOCH, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: Elizabeth Hardwick: Mrs. Wharton in New York, NY Review of Books
        WORKS BY AND ABOUT EDITH WHARTON DISCUSSED IN THIS ESSAY
        Edith Wharton: Novels (The House of Mirth, The Reef, The Custom of the Country, The Age of Innocence)
        The Mother's Recompense by Edith Wharton
        Old New York: False Dawn (The 'Forties), The Old Maid (The 'Fifties), The Spark (The 'Sixties), New Year's Day (The 'Seventies) by Edith Wharton
        "Bunner Sisters" in Madame de Treymes and Others by Edith Wharton
        Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
        Edith Wharton: A Biography by R.W.B. Lewis
        Portrait of Edith Wharton by Percy Lubbock
    -REVIEW: of THE HOUSE OF MIRTH THE REEF THE CUSTOM OF THE COUNTRY THE AGE OF INNOCENCE By Edith Wharton (Janet Malcolm, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: Gabriele Annan: A Night at the Opera, NY Review of Books
        'Fast and Loose' and 'The Buccaneers' by Edith Wharton
        The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton and completed by Marion Mainwaring
        The Age of Innocence directed by Martin Scorsese, screenplay by Jay Cocks, and Martin Scorsese
        The Age of Innocence: A Portrait of the Film Based on the Novel by Edith Wharton by Martin Scorsese and Jay Cocks
        The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton and introduction by R.W.B. Lewis
    -REVIEW: of THE BUCCANEERS By Edith Wharton. Completed by Marion Mainwaring (Wendy Steiner, NY Times Book Review)
      -REVIEW: of A Feast of Words: The Triumph of Edith Wharton by Cynthia Griffin Wolff  Edith Wharton's Secret (Karl Miller, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: Irvin Ehrenpreis: The Rescue of Edith Wharton, NY Review of Books
        Edith Wharton: A Biography by R.W.B. Lewis
    -REVIEW: Eleanor Clark: "Angel of Devastation", NY Review of Books
        The Two Lives of Edith Wharton by Grace Kellogg
        Edith Wharton and Henry James: The Story of Their Friendship by Millicent Bell
        Edith Wharton 1862-1937 by Olivia Coolidge
        The Edith Wharton Reader selected with an Introduction by Louis Auchincloss
        The Reef by Edith Wharton and Introduction by Louis Auchincloss
    -REVIEW: Marius Bewley: Mrs. Wharton's Mask, NY Review of Books
        A Blackward Glance: The Autobiography of Edith Wharton Introduction by Louis Auchincloss
        Summer by Edith Wharton
        Old New York by Edith Wharton
    -REVIEW: of THE MOTHER'S RECOMPENSE. By Edith Wharton (MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of  The Stories of Edith Wharton Selected and Introduced by Anita Brookner (Michiko Kakutani , NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Letters of Edith Wharton Edited by R. W. B. Lewis and Nancy Lewis  (Michiko Kakutani , NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of NO GIFTS FROM CHANCE A Biography of Edith Wharton. By Shari Benstock (Greg Johnson, NY times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of EDITH WHARTON An Extraordinary Life. By Eleanor Dwight (Angeline Goreau, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of HENRY JAMES AND EDITH WHARTON Letters: 1900-1915. Edited by Lyall H. Powers (Maggie Paley, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of HENRY JAMES AND EDITH WHARTON Letters: 1900-1915. Edited by Lyall H. Powers   (Michiko Kakutani , NY Times)
 

FILM:
    -REVIEW: of Ethan Frome (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times)
    -REVIEW: of Ethan Frome (Rita Kempley,  Washington Post Staff Writer)
    -REVIEW: of Ethan Frome (A Film Review by James Berardinelli)

GENERAL:
    -REVIEW: Helen Vendler: Feminism and Literature, NY Review of Books
        Beyond Feminist Aesthetics: Feminist Literature and Social Change by Rita Felski
        Women, Class, and the Feminist Imagination: A Socialist-Feminist Reader edited by Karen V. Hansen and Ilene J. Philipson
        Feminism/Postmodernism edited and with an introduction by Linda J. Nicholson
        Women Writers of the Seventeenth Century edited by Katharina M. Wilson and Frank J. Warnke
        Eighteenth-Century Women Poets: An Oxford Anthology edited by Roger Lonsdale
        Hamlet's Mother and Other Women by Carolyn G. Heilbrun
        No Man's Land: The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century Vol. I, The War of the Words Vol. II,
        Sexchanges by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar
        Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia
    -ESSAY:  Listening for the Scratch of a Pen (SUZANNE BERNE, NY Times)

If you liked The Age of Innocence, try:

Tarkington, Booth
    -The Magnificent Ambersons

Comments:

I am teaching The Age of Innocence at A level and my resources are somewhat stuffy. I want my students to do a feminist psychoanalytic reading of the text, focusing on May and Ellen and how Wharton portrays them. Your site is excellent with many useful resources. I intend to plunder it. Many thanks

- Frances McNeill

- Nov-23-2004, 13:57

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