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Thread: edith wharton

  1. #1
    Registered User cynara's Avatar
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    Mar 2009

    edith wharton

    My current fancy with early 20th century american literature has lead me to Edith Wharton. I've read 'the age of innocence' and 'the buccaneers', I plan on reading both 'Ethan Frome' and 'the house of mirth' but after that i'm uncertain. I know these are her most renowned works and i'm looking for advice as to whether i should move past these onto her other writings or if i should move onto another writer. I'm very fond of her writing style but if her other works aren't very good i don't want to ruin the image i have of her so far. So is anyone familiar with her other works , should i read them?
    I cried for madder music and for stronger wine,
    But when the feast is finished and the lamps expire,
    Then falls thy shadow, Cynara! the night is thine;
    And I am desolate and sick of an old passion,
    Yea, hungry for thelips of my desire:
    I have been faithful to thee Cynara! in my fashion.

  2. #2
    I grow, I prosper Jeremiah Jazzz's Avatar
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    Nov 2008
    I haven't read much of this author, but I have read a short story by her titled 'Roman Fever' which was a great read.

  3. #3
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    May 2008
    I've just started The House of Mirth, (but I'm only a few pages in), and I've listened to The Age of Innocence on audio, and seen the film. I like what I've read, but I don't know her other works, oh apart from seeing Ethan Frome on film a few years ago. I'd be interested to hear more about her too.

  4. #4
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    Oct 2008
    The House of Mirth is considerably better than Ethan Frome. I liked The Reef as well.

  5. #5
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    Oct 2009

    Discovering Edith

    Hi all. To Cynara (and I realize I'm about 3 1/2 months too late, having just joined the LN Forum last night) - it's up to you regarding whether or not you should continue with Edith Wharton's other work. However, have no fear; Edith's writing style was remarkably consistent throughout her life - always flowing, clear, witty and somewhat formal. It mattered not whether she was writing a poem, a short story or a novel, for all - or very nearly all - were written with the same grace, intelligence, wit and warmth that you undoubtedly noticed in The Age of Innocence (the book is even better than the movie, Wessex Girl - do give it a try!) and The Buccaneers. (Two exceptions that come to mind are Ethan Frome and Summer. These two books are darker in subject matter than are most of her others with which I am familiar, and her style changed accordingly and appropriately.) I would certainly think that you would enjoy The Reef and The House of Mirth, both of which Mollie mentioned, as well as the short story Roman Fever, which Jeremiah mentioned. If you read those, I think you will become sufficiently "hooked" that you will want to continue with her other work. As EW is my favorite author, it is - as should be most obvious by now, and for which I sincerely apologize - impossibly difficult for me to contain my enthusiasm! To sum up as objectively as I may, I am quite confident that she will not let you down, Cynara. Happy reading!!!

  6. #6
    Registered User wordeater's Avatar
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    Dec 2010
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    I read her three best known books and I think "The House of Mirth" is her masterpiece, but "Ethan Frome" and "The Age of Innocence" are also very good. She started as an interior decorator, and you can see that a bit in the way she describes her settings.

  7. #7
    Original Poster Buh4Bee's Avatar
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    May 2009
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    Yes, I read the Age of Innocence and very much liked it. Haven't read anything else by her.

  8. #8
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    Jan 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by wordeater View Post
    I read her three best known books and I think "The House of Mirth" is her masterpiece, but "Ethan Frome" and "The Age of Innocence" are also very good. She started as an interior decorator, and you can see that a bit in the way she describes her settings.
    I agree that “The House of Mirth” is her masterpiece. And I would recommend reading the rest of her work to anyone.
    I like how you mentioned the inclusion of interior design. I always felt that all the details concerning architecture, gardening and interior design (which were among her other passions), were used to emphasize the “golden cage” feel in her novels about Old New York. How the setting itself contributes to social pressure, making you “behave” and reminding you of where you are and to which circle and lifestyle you belong. Just like I imagine that if my house was decorated like Versailles, then I probably wouldn’t hang out in slippers and an old track suit, or eat popcorn on the couch with my feet on a Louis XIV table.
    Anyhow, all her work is highly recommendable and it’s not really about what happens, but how she narrates it. I always say that if she were here today and someone asked her to rewrite the phone book, she’d turn it into a wonderful page-turner!

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