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The Age of Innocence (Modern Library…

The Age of Innocence (Modern Library Classics) (original 1920; edition 1999)

by Edith Wharton, Louis Auchincloss (Introduction)

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9,379222315 (4.03)5 / 914
Title:The Age of Innocence (Modern Library Classics)
Authors:Edith Wharton
Other authors:Louis Auchincloss (Introduction)
Info:Modern Library (1999), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 304 pages

Work details

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (1920)

  1. 62
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (readerbabe1984)
  2. 41
    The Bostonians by Henry James (jbvm)
  3. 41
    The American by Henry James (2below)
    2below: Similar plot and themes--both deal with the issue of being an outsider. I find James' prose a bit more vigorous than Wharton's.
  4. 31
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (roby72)
  5. 42
    Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (readerbabe1984)
  6. 31
    The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald (TineOliver)
    TineOliver: Both look at love and marriage in the upper classes of New York society (however, at different time periods)
  7. 10
    The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles (kitzyl)
    kitzyl: Man engaged to conventional society finds himself attracted to an outcast who challenges the rigidity and hypocrisy of the era.
  8. 12
    The Europeans by Henry James (thatguyzero)
  9. 24
    Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (readerbabe1984)
1920s (14)

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English (215)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  All languages (222)
Showing 1-5 of 215 (next | show all)
Loved this book. I will say the first week was difficult, I only had 15 minutes at a time to read. Once I was able to sit and read,it was a great book. I loved the writing,and the characters. The ending made me sad,but I understood Newland.
As much as things have changed,have they really? ( )
  LauGal | Aug 16, 2016 |
Is it truly cowardice to choose the inertia of fantasy over action when any relationship will erode to "dull duty" in the long run? ( )
  xicohtli | Jul 20, 2016 |
In 1870s New York, Newland Archer apparently has it all: a decent job as a lawyer in and a nice young lady, May Welland, about to become his wife. When May's cousin Countess Ellen Olenska returns to their set with marital troubles, however, Newland begins to question his unthinking bending to convention when he discovers he's in love with the Countess.

Themes of convention or community versus personal satisfaction pervade the story and, to my mind, overtook it in such a way that the characters never came alive and I grew rather bored by the end. Our society has changed so much in the last hundred years when it comes to gratification and doing what you want or sacrificing your happiness for another's, that I wonder how many young people reading this today would have anything to relate to. There is certainly enough meat for discussion and I may find my opinion changing slightly as I ponder the book more. ( )
  bell7 | Jul 19, 2016 |
The Age of Innocence was the story of love fettered by the rigid confines of late 19th century upper class New York society. A theme of emotional fulfillment coming at the cost of one's place in the near tribal community ran throughout the book. It was dry at times and the stifling social code was as strong a presence as any of the characters. ( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
The stilted and highly controlled New York society juxtaposed with the humanity of the protagonists. ( )
  kale.dyer | Jun 7, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 215 (next | show all)
So how can Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence possibly be the greatest New York novel of all time? Well, it is. It builds itself, obsessively, out of all the essential New York themes.
The appearance of such a book as "The Age of Innocence" by an American is a matter for public rejoicing. It is one of the best novels of the twentieth century and looks like a permanent addition to literature.

» Add other authors (99 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wharton, Edithprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Auchincloss, LouisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dayne, BrendaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Horovitch, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howard, MaureenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, DianeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lewis, R.W.B.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lively, PenelopeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orgel, StephenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raver, LornaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shore, StephenPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Lawrence BeallIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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On a January evening of the early seventies, Christine Nilsson was singing in Faust at the Academy of Music in New York.
And he felt himself oppressed by this creation of factitious purity, so cunningly manufactured by a conspiracy of mothers and aunts and grandmothers and long-dead ancestresses, because it was supposed to be what he wanted, what he had a right to, in order that he might exercise his lordly pleasure in smashing it like an image made of snow.
It was the old New York way of taking life" without effusion of blood": the way of people who dreaded scandal more than disease, who placed decency above courage, and who considered that nothing was more ill-bred than "scenes", except the behavior of those who gave rise to them.
When he thought of Ellen Olenska it was abstractly, serenely, as one might think of some imaginary beloved in a book or a picture: she had become the composite vision of all that he had missed.
"That terrifying product of the social system he belonged to and believed in, the young girl who knew nothing and expected everything, looked back at him like a stranger through May Welland's familiar features; and once more it was borne in on him that marriage was not the safe anchorage he had been taught to think, but a voyage on uncharted seas."
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Book description
In the conformist, closed world of upper-class New York, Newland Archer anticipates his marriage to May Welland, a young girl "who knew nothing and expected everything". Into this ordered arrangement bursts May's cousin, Ellen, the mysterious and exotic Countess Olenska, on the run from an appallingly unhappy marriage. She alternately captivates and outrages the New York milieu and, as Newland's sympathy for her deepens into love, he not only gains insight into the brutality of society's treatment of women, but discovers the real anguish of loving outside its rules. Critical, compassionate, and acutely perceptive about both the individual and the defensiveness of society, The Age of Innocence is perhaps Edith Wharton's finest work.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 159308143X, Paperback)

Somewhere in this book, Wharton observes that clever liars always come up with good stories to back up their fabrications, but that really clever liars don't bother to explain anything at all. This is the kind of insight that makes The Age of Innocence so indispensable. Wharton's story of the upper classes of Old New York, and Newland Archer's impossible love for the disgraced Countess Olenska, is a perfectly wrought book about an era when upper-class culture in this country was still a mixture of American and European extracts, and when "society" had rules as rigid as any in history.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:34 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Newland Archer begins to question the values of high society in Victorian New York when he finds himself torn between two very different women--his proper young fiancee and her exotic cousin.

(summary from another edition)

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