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Hudson River Bracketed by Edith Wharton

Hudson River Bracketed (1929)

by Edith Wharton

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I continue to have trouble getting into Wharton's later novels. This one, which deals with the travails of a young writer, Vance Weston, I simply found sprawling and bloated, and it was a struggle to get to anything I did find engaging. Wharton obviously wants to make Weston sympathetic, yet she can't help but show how his thoughtless egotism affects the people around him, especially the women (several of whom are excellently done characters in their own right).

What I did like a lot was Wharton's depiction of the writing life, of its frustrations and inspirations. There's a particularly good passage near the end in which Weston sees through a window the fully laden branch of an apple tree, and the sight inspires him: "this mute swinging wide of the secret doors...that flash of mysterious light." It's just a pity that the intriguing core of the book is so often hidden by its much less intriguing plot. ( )
1 vote gwyneira | Feb 25, 2010 |
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All things make me glad, and sorry too
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By the time he was nineteen Vance Weston had graduated from the College of Euphoria, Illinois, where his parents then lived, had spent a week in Chicago, invented a new religion, and edited for a few months a college magazine called Getting There, to which he had contributed several love poems and a series of iconoclastic essays.
Literature contains many portraits of the artist as a young person, depictions of the development of a creature endowed with unusual sensibility, talent, and ambition in an environment always shown to be hostile to art and the sensitive soul. (Afterword)
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Naive young writer Vance Weston, convalescing by the Hudson River, meets Halo Spear and is fired by her passion for literature. They meet again, much later, and, with her rich, cultivated husband, Lewis Tarrant, she introduces him to New York's literary and artistic circles. But an impulsive marriage has brought Vance poverty and unwelcome responsibilities which inhibit his writing until one summer, Halo inspires him to write the novel which makes his name. The conflict between New York sophistication and Midwestern naivety leads to painful dilemmas, involving both couples in perplexity and loss.

Vance Weston, an aspiring writer, has just graduated from college in his Midwest hometown of Euphoria where his father is "big" in real estate. Then illness takes him East, to the home of cousins on the Hudson River. In a gracious old house nearby Vance encounters a cultivated young woman, Halo Spear. Through Halo he will discover a new world of art and literature; he will meet writers and critics; learn polished manners and civilised conversation - but not how to assimilate his old life with the new. First published in 1929, inspired by the early career of the American novelist Thomas Wolfe, this portrait of an artist as a young man offers a fascinating insight into New York literary society of the 1920s.
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This early work by Edith Wharton was originally published in 1929 and we are now republishing it with a brand new introductory biography. 'Hudson River Bracketed' is a novel about a brilliant woman, Halo Spear, and an uneducated man, Vance Weston, who form a deep bond through literature. Edith Wharton was born in New York City in 1862. Wharton's first poems were published in Scribner's Magazine. In 1891, the same publication printed the first of her many short stories, titled 'Mrs. Manstey's View'. Over the next four decades, they - along with other well-established American publications such as Atlantic Monthly, Century Magazine, Harper's and Lippincott's - regularly published her work.… (more)

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