Edith Wharton: The House of Mirth

Edith Wharton: The House of Mirth

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Overview

Edith Wharton: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

'If there is a more highly regarded female American author of the twentieth century, her name doesn't readily come to mind.'
—John Updike

Born in 1862 into an exclusive New York societyflagainst whose rigid mores she often rebelled? Edith Wharton bridged the literary worlds of two continents and two centuries in her rich and glamorous life. The House of Mirth (1905), her tenth book, is the story of young Lily Bart and her tragic sojourn among the upper class of turn-of-the- century New York, touching upon the insidious effects of social convention and the sexual and financial aggression to which free-spirited women were exposed. 'A frivolous society,' Wharton wrote, 'can acquire dramatic significance only through what its frivolity destroys.'

Library of America Paperback Classics feature authoritative texts drawn from the acclaimed Library of America series and introduced by today's most distinguished scholars and writers. Each book features a detailed chronology of the author's life and career, and essay on the choice of the text, and notes.

The contents of this Paperback Classic are drawn from Edith Wharton: Novels, volume number 30 in the Library of America series. It is joined in the series by three companion volumes, gathering novellas, short stories, and other writing by Edith Wharton.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781598530551
Publisher: Library of America
Publication date: 08/25/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 390
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

America's most famous woman of letters, and the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, Edith Wharton was born into one of the last "leisured class" families in New York City, as she put it, in 1862. Educated privately, she was married to Edward Wharton in 1885, and for the next few years, they spent their time in the high society of Newport (Rhode Island), then Lenox (Massachusetts) and Europe. It was in Europe that Wharton first met Henry James, who was to have a profound and lasting influence on her life and work. Wharton's first published book was a work of nonfiction, in collaboration with Ogden Codman, The Decoration of Houses (1897), but from early on, her marriage had been a source of distress, and she was advised by her doctor to write fiction to relieve her nervous tension. Wharton's first short stories appeared in Scribner's Magazine, and though she published several volumes of fiction around the turn of the century, including The Greater Inclination (1899), The Touchstone (1900), Crucial Instances (1901), The Valley of Decision (1902), Sanctuary (1903), and The Descent of Man and Other Stories (1904), it wasn't until 1905, with the publication of the bestselling The House of Mirth, that she was recognized as one of the most important novelists of her time for her keen social insight and subtle sense of satire. In 1906, Wharton visited Paris, which inspired Madame de Treymes (1907), and made her home there in 1907, finally divorcing her husband in 1912. The years before the outbreak of World War I represent the core of her artistic achievement, when Ethan Frome (1911), The Reef (1912), and The Custom of the Country (1913) were published. During the war, she remained in France organizing relief for Belgian refugees, for which she was later awarded the Legion of Honor. She also wrote two novels about the war, The Marne (1918) and A Son at the Front (1923), and continued, in France, to write about New England and the Newport society she had known so well in Summer (1917), the companion to Ethan Frome, and The Age of Innocence (1920), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize. Wharton died in France in 1937. Her other works include Old New York (1924), The Mother's Recompense (1925), The Writing of Fiction (1925), The Children (1928), Hudson River Bracketed (1929), and her autobiography, A Backward Glance (1934).

Date of Birth:

January 24, 1862

Date of Death:

August 11, 1937

Place of Birth:

New York, New York

Place of Death:

Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt, France

Education:

Educated privately in New York and Europe

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