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Ethan Frome & Selected Stories (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Ethan Frome and Selected Stories, by Edith Wharton, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics ...
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Ethan Frome & Selected Stories (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

Ethan Frome and Selected Stories, by Edith Wharton, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

 

One of Edith Wharton’s few works of fiction that takes place outside of an urban, upper-class setting, Ethan Frome draws upon the bleak, barren landscape of rural New England. A poor farmer, Ethan finds himself stuck in a miserable marriage to Zeenie, a sickly, tyrannical woman, until he falls in love with her visiting cousin, the vivacious Mattie Silver. As Mattie is forced to leave his household, Frome steals one last afternoon with her—one that culminates in a ruinous sled ride with unspeakably tragic results.

Unhappily married herself, Edith Wharton projected her dark views of love onto people far removed from her social class in Ethan Frome. Her sensitivity to natural beauty and human psychology, however, make this slim novel a convincing and compelling portrait of rural life. A powerful tale of passion and loss—and the wretched consequences thereof—Ethan Frome is one of American literatures great tragic love stories.

Also included in this volume are four of Edith Wharton’s finest short stories: "The Pretext,” "Afterward,” "The Legend,” and "Xingu.”

Kent P. Ljungquist, Professor of English at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, is the author of The Grand and the Fair: Poe’s Landscape Aesthetics and Pictorial Techniques, co-editor of the SUNY Press edition of James Fenimore Cooper's The Deerslayer, and editor of several reference works of American fiction.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593080907
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 109,461
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Kent P. Ljungquist, Professor of English at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, is the author of The Grand and the Fair: Poe’s Landscape Aesthetics and Pictorial Techniques, co-editor of the SUNY Press edition of James Fenimore Cooper's The Deerslayer, and editor of several reference works of American fiction.

Biography

Edith Newbold Jones was born January 24, 1862, into such wealth and privilege that her family inspired the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." The youngest of three children, Edith spent her early years touring Europe with her parents and, upon the family's return to the United States, enjoyed a privileged childhood in New York and Newport, Rhode Island. Edith's creativity and talent soon became obvious: By the age of eighteen she had written a novella, (as well as witty reviews of it) and published poetry in the Atlantic Monthly.

After a failed engagement, Edith married a wealthy sportsman, Edward Wharton. Despite similar backgrounds and a shared taste for travel, the marriage was not a success. Many of Wharton's novels chronicle unhappy marriages, in which the demands of love and vocation often conflict with the expectations of society. Wharton's first major novel, The House of Mirth, published in 1905, enjoyed considerable Literary Success. Ethan Frome appeared six years later, solidifying Wharton's reputation as an important novelist. Often in the company of her close friend, Henry James, Wharton mingled with some of the most famous writers and artists of the day, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, André Gide, Sinclair Lewis, Jean Cocteau, and Jack London.

In 1913 Edith divorced Edward. She lived mostly in France for the remainder of her life. When World War I broke out, she organized hostels for refugees, worked as a fund-raiser, and wrote for American publications from battlefield frontlines. She was awarded the French Legion of Honor for her courage and distinguished work.

The Age of Innocence, a novel about New York in the 1870s, earned Wharton the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1921 -- the first time the award had been bestowed upon a woman. Wharton traveled throughout Europe to encourage young authors. She also continued to write, lying in her bed every morning, as she had always done, dropping each newly penned page on the floor to be collected and arranged when she was finished. Wharton suffered a stroke and died on August 11, 1937. She is buried in the American Cemetery in Versailles, France.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Age of Innocence.

Good To Know

Upon the publication of The House of Mirth in 1905, Wharton became an instant celebrity, and the the book was an instant bestseller, with 80,000 copies ordered from Scribner's six weeks after its release.

Wharton had a great fondness for dogs, and owned several throughout her life.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Edith Newbold Jones Wharton (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 24, 1862
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Death:
      August 11, 1937
    2. Place of Death:
      Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt, France

Read an Excerpt

From Kent P. Ljungquist's Introduction to Ethan Frome and Selected Stories

Wharton tended to measure her literary achievements against those of male writers; in her introduction, she further distinguished her efforts from previous treatments of New England by discounting her role as a mere recorder of the more superficial or external features of her setting. She thus emphasized the steps in the construction of Ethan Frome—that is, her role as a conscious literary craftsman. She noted that her initial conception derived from an academic exercise intended to polish her proficiency in the French language. Developed in Paris in 1907, the French sketch of "Ethan Frome" contained three characters (the male was named Hart) and achieved a length that encompassed two scenes, or vignettes, that survived in the published version. The fragment contained a triangular relationship among a husband, his sick wife, and the wife's niece, to whom the "Ethan-character" is attracted; but it lacked the structure that would give focus as well as depth to the narrative. Wharton eventually hit upon the device of a storyteller, but she did not choose one steeped in the lore and history of New England. Rather than a character like the herbalist and healer Mrs. Todd in Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896), a native authority on the region's legends and values, Wharton chose someone from outside New England to narrate the story-a looker-on, an observer.

In her desire for "roundness"—Wharton seemed to resort recurrently to the terminology of the "plastic arts" or visual media—she would supplement the narrator's perspective with those of her minor characters. The fresh, acute perspective derived from the narrator's growing insight and awareness would compensate for what he lacked in inside background knowledge of the Frome household. While the device of an observer might lend "an air of artificiality" to a tale of sophisticated characters, Wharton noted, this defect might be mitigated if the narrator brought a sophisticated perspective to a tale of simple people. Her narrator would thus serve as a kind of intermediary between the reticent and reserved villagers and Wharton's readers, giving "voice" to characters nearly inarticulate or resigned to silence.

Wharton's use of an observer eases the reader's entry into Ethan's story. In the opening of the novel the narrator recaptures his first arresting glimpse of Wharton's central character, when he had been struck by Frome's physiognomy and bearing. Harmon Gow, who had driven the stage between Starkfield and other towns in the region's pre-trolley days, provides further background on Frome. From Gow the narrator learns of Ethan's age and of his reluctance to escape Starkfield because of obligations to care for his failing parents. The narrator also hears not only Gow's chilling comment on Ethan's endurance—"Ethan'll likely touch a hundred"—but also his opinion that Ethan's stay in Starkfield constituted a kind of imprisonment: "Guess he's been in Starkfield too many winters. Most of the smart ones get away". The narrator's interview of Gow develops the tale only "as far as his [Gow's] mental and moral reach permitted", and he hopes that the more educated, sophisticated Mrs. Ned Hale, with whom he is staying, will provide greater insight. He cannot cut through her reserve and reticence, however, even though she has more firsthand knowledge of the aftermath of the accident that scarred Frome's forehead. Implying a suffering too great for words, her only comment is: "It was awful".

The narrator infers that he must piece together Ethan's story from different sources, and that consequently each retelling will be a little bit different. The meaning of the story, he infers, will be found even in gaps or silences after he has accumulated a succession of hints, suggestions, and clues that surround Frome. For all the narrator's curiosity about the Frome household, this technique gives his telling an elliptical effect, a sense that much has been left unsaid or not fully articulated. When the winter snows prevent the narrator's return to Starkfield after Frome volunteers to drive him to his business appointment, he is granted a night's shelter at the farm. Enveloped by the severe storm, the narrator experiences a "soft universal diffusion more confusing than the gusts and eddies of the morning." In the "formless night" his disorientation temporarily intensifies, and "even [Ethan's] sense of direction, and the bay's homing instinct, finally ceased to serve". The narrator's perplexity and bewilderment imply a need to reorient himself, to jolt himself, so to speak, into a perspective that demands clearer sight and more acute insight. It is at this point that Wharton effects the transition back to the period of Ethan's youth. Although some critics have quarreled with the subjective nature of her narrator's perceptions, there seems little doubt that Wharton intended his narrative to be more than one version of events among others. Accordingly, it is a "vision"; in her 1922 introduction she noted: "Only the narrator has scope to see it all, to resolve it back into simplicity, and to put it in its rightful place among his larger categories."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 115 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(38)

4 Star

(25)

3 Star

(24)

2 Star

(11)

1 Star

(17)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 115 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 30, 2009

    Ah, yes!

    The ending was a real kicker. I enjoyed this book and I'm glad I read it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2007

    A Good Read

    Ethan Frome was, as I said, a good read. I like how the author used a frame to tell this story--it seems as though you are listening in on something. The novel is not that long, and quite engrossing for the majority of the novel so it goes by fast. Some might find Ethan's thoughts a bit melodramatic, but his thoughts made the novel more realistic. The only reason I would not give Ethan Frome five stars is that the ending did not seem to fit the context of the novel. So, to me, the ending was a bit of a disappointment.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2006

    Romeo And Juliet?

    The main story read in this book is of course Ethan Frome and as far as im concerned it is just another version of Romeo and Juliet but the writing was actually superior to shakespears in my opinion

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2005

    Best American Novel Ever

    As my headline says, I believe this to be the best novel by an American author. Wharton is a forgotten literary star as far as I'm concerned.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2013

    Don't Read I hated everything about this book. The characters,

    Don't Read

    I hated everything about this book. The characters, the plot, the theme, ect. I wouldn't recommend anyone to read this.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Pretty Intence

    A fast read. Characters are well developed and are strong. The ending is quite unexpected for those who are not already familiar with this classic.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2008

    one star is more than it deserves...

    It was an absolutely horrible book as far as I am concerned. The entire book was excessively boring. There were about two interesting parts in the entire novel and they lasted a span of about 10 maybe 15 pages. Although it really lacked in action of any kind it is full of symbolism and meaning. I think you'll really get a kick out of the ending if you decide to read it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2006

    Such a good book

    A really good romance novel. I loved it!! I recommend this book to anyone.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted December 13, 2010

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    Posted January 30, 2011

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    Posted January 11, 2013

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    Posted August 1, 2009

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