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Edith Wharton: A Biography (1975)

by R. W. B. Lewis

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This an American writer.--The New York Times Book Review.



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1388 Edith Wharton: A Biography, by R. W. B. Lewis (read 20 Apr 1976) (Pulitzer Biography prize for 1976) This is a masterful work, which I spent most of the month reading, with the interruptions caused by reading books of hers. I enjoyed this biography very much. It reminded me of Leon Edel'a superlative five-volume biography of Henry James--called by the author of this biography "probably the finest literary biography ever written by an American." Wharton was born Jan 24, 1862 and died Aug 11, 1937. She lived most of her life in France, in real luxury. Before reading this book I had read only Ethan Frome and The Age of Innocence. Nothing I read by her in April was too impressive to me except The Reef. I felt she was a lesser figure than Willa Cather, but reading this biography was a joy. ( )
  Schmerguls | Feb 8, 2009 |
Beginning with Wharton's genealogical background and ending with her funeral R.W.B. Lewis's Edith Wharton: a Biography is at once both extensive and entertaining. Wharton begins her life as Edith "Pussy" Jones, the daughter of a socially well-to-do family. Her life is surrounded by all the things the culture of 1870s cherished - multiple family estates, social gatherings with citizens of good standing and trips abroad to places like Italy and France. With access to letters, diaries and manuscripts Lewis is able to give animated details to Wharton's upbringing and subsequent literary career. It is no wonder he won a Pulitzer for his work. It also is easy to see how Wharton was drawn to a writing career when you consider the wealth of influences in that era: Henry James, Theodore Roosevelt, William Vaughn Moody, Charles Dickens, Gustave Flaubert, and George Eliot to name a few. What is amazing is her inability to stay the course of confidence. The slightest criticism could send her career out of commission for months at a time. ( )
1 vote SeriousGrace | Jan 27, 2009 |
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This an American writer.--The New York Times Book Review.

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