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The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

The Age of Innocence (1920)

by Edith Wharton

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,718244392 (4.02)5 / 999
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    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.
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    TineOliver: Both look at love and marriage in the upper classes of New York society (however, at different time periods)
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    kitzyl: Man engaged to conventional society finds himself attracted to an outcast who challenges the rigidity and hypocrisy of the era.
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1920s (6)

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English (233)  Spanish (4)  Italian (2)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (243)
Showing 1-5 of 233 (next | show all)
This was lovely, just what I needed. Edith Wharton’s writing is witty yet intricate, full of observation, introspection. She conveys the throes of unfulfilled love choked by society’s expectation with so much compassion that one can feel the pain and internal turmoil of her characters. She also draws a snarky portrait of the end of the nineteenth century New York society, its expectations, hypocrisy, conventionality. Some of her dialogue is downright funny and made me smile several times throughout the book.

The writing was so superb that I almost did not care for the plot, of which there was not much, just enough to carry the anguish of the wasted lives of its protagonists shackled by conventions.

The narration by Lorna Raver was lovely. ( )
  Gezemice | Mar 8, 2019 |
I have to be honest, and say that I didn't think I was going to enjoy this one very much. Many years ago I saw a film adaptation, which I didn't like at all, which I admit put me off reading the book for some time.

But I have it a go (audible version read by David Horovitch), and surprisingly enough I found myself rather charmed by it.
It won't make any of my favourites lists, but The story and characters were interesting enough for a good 3 1/2 stars. The writing is actually very good! ( )
  Sammystarbuck | Feb 23, 2019 |
One can see why it is a classic bestseller because it has been rattling around in my mind so deeply. The story is well constructed and the writing has been proven by the test of time. But, oh, so depressing, so barren, so painfully staid. These issues are still so prevalent the book is timeless. A must read for any thoughtful person, IMHO. ( )
  DonaldPowell | Feb 5, 2019 |
The age of individualism has not yet dawned when Newland Archer, a young man from a good New Yorker family, has to make the age-old choice between an untamed true love and a marriage that fits into all the traditions he grew up and believes in.
A remarkable story about love, duty, sacrifice and the power that society, its morals and traditons have over the lives of people, especially if they don't fit seamlessly into the fold. The excesses of these conventions often seems absurd to modern readers, the introspective voice of this narrative sometimes borders on melodrama, but especially as I read (listened to) it right after Pride and Prejudice, the difference how both books handle this overarching theme left a deep impression on me. Where P&P takes it with a lot of humour, optimism and exaggerating ridicule, the tone here is decidedly melancholic, introspective and much more subdued. ( )
  DeusXMachina | Jan 11, 2019 |
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton; (4 1/2*)

This a book about living your life in respect to appearances. And in 'old' New York it was ALL about appearances. There is a sameness within all marriages, a sameness between the ladies as well as the gentlemen, a sameness in what time the lights go on in the evenings and the time the curtains are pulled.
This could have been a very boring book but it was not at all. In point of fact, I found it to be fascinating. The main character is in love with the young lady that he eventually proposes to, but comes to realize that with her, their marriage will have that boring sameness to it of all the others, that she will be just like all of the other wives which will make him just like all of the other husbands. He meets another young lady who rather than being brought up in old New York was brought up in Europe and finds that she is quite different. She is married to a man whom she has left in Europe due to the very unhappy circumstances in the way he treated her. He becomes fascinated with this woman and even his fiancee tells him that if he should want something different, that she would not want to stand in his way. But...............times being as they were, there are certain standards to be met no matter the happiness or sadness involved.
I enjoyed this Wharton tremendously and have found her to be a wonderful author. I highly recommend the book and have given it 4 1/2 stars. ( )
6 vote rainpebble | Jan 3, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 233 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (92 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
Negri, PietroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orgel, StephenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pisani, TommasoIntroduzionesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Quinn, Laura Dluzynskisecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raver, LornaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shore, StephenPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Lawrence BeallIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waid, CandaceIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wolff, Cynthia GriffinIntroductionsecondary 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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Wikipedia in English (2)

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.
Haiku summary
One rule to chain them:
Conventions trump love, trump hate,
Freedom for safety.

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 9 descriptions)

Winner of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize, The Age of Innocence is Edith Wharton's masterful portrait of desire and betrayal during the sumptuous Golden Age of Old New York, a time when society people "dreaded scandal more than disease." This is Newland Archer's world as he prepares to marry the beautiful but conventional May Welland. But when the mysterious Countess Ellen Olenska returns to New York after a disastrous marriage, Archer falls deeply in love with her. Torn between duty and passion, Archer struggles to make a decision that will either courageously define his life--or mercilessly destroy it.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1909438820, 1909438839

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