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Gramercy Modern Classics: Edith Wharton: Age…

Gramercy Modern Classics: Edith Wharton: Age of Innocence & Two Other…

by Edith Wharton

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As an anthology it's an interesting introduction to Wharton: two of the narrators of the pieces are similar, and it's arranged with the longest piece first in the collection. I think that might be because the shortest piece has the least dramatic action. I've found Wharton very quick to read, and I'm a slow reader.

I've described Wharton as a cross between a romance writer with Jane Austen: you get a lot of the interior life of the narrator (who is a young man about to marry) and through that you get commentary on the mores of the time period, and that is very Austenlike. At the same time in _Age of Innocence_, you have a lot of the same "will they, won't they?" tension that you have in romance novels. And actual kissing, which you don't have in Austen.

Why don't schools use "Summer" instead of Ethan Frome? It's the story of a 16-year-old girl's summer fling, and it deals with the topic of teen sex (none happens on the page: it's all implied except for kissing), marriage, teen pregnancy, creepy guardians, poverty, class, and abortion. In terms of the anthology, the main character is a great contrast to the young fellow of Age of Innocence."

"Madame de Treymes" is a short piece about a NY woman married to a French aristocrat and trying to divorce him. Told from p.o.v. of the fellow who wishes to marry her, and told mostly via dialogue between him and the woman's sister-in-law, who is serving as the family representative in the negotiations. This piece has some parallels with _Age of Innocence_ in terms of the main characters, both in their background and actions. ( )
  AmyMacEvilly | Mar 31, 2013 |
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