The Age of Innocence (Bloom's Notes)

The Age of Innocence (Bloom's Notes)


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The Age of Innocence (Bloom's Notes) by Harold Bloom

Set in turn-of-the-century New York, Edith Wharton's classic novel The Age of Innocence reveals a society governed by the dictates of taste and form, manners and morals, and intricate social ceremonies. With amazing clarity and sensitivity, Edith Wharton re-creates an atmosphere in which subtle gestures and faint implications bespeak desire and emotion, in which beauty and innocence are valued above truth, and in which disturbing the social order disturbs the very foundations of one's identity.

Newland Archer, soon to marry the lovely May Welland, is a man torn between his respect for tradition and family and his attraction to May's strongly independent cousin, the Countess Ellen Olenska. Plagued by the desire to live in a world where two people can love each other free from condemnation and judgment by the group, Newland views the artful delicacy of the world he lives in as a comforting security one moment, and at another, as an oppressive fiction masking true human nature.

The Age of Innocence is at once a richly drawn portrait of the elegant lifestyles, luxurious brownstones, and fascinating culture of bygone New York society and a compelling look at the conflict between human passions and the social tribe that tries to control them.

"An exquisite delight . . . A consummate work of art. . . . New York society and customs in the seventies are described with an accuracy that is almost uncanny; to read these pages is to live again . . . The love scenes between [Newland] and Ellen are wonderful in their terrible, inarticulate passion; it is curious how much more real they are than the unrestrained detailed descriptions thought by so manywriters to be 'realism' . . . So little is said, so little is done, yet one feels the infinite passion in the finite hearts that burn. . . . The appearance of such a book as THE AGE OF INNOCENCE by an American is a matter for public rejoicing. It is one of the best novels of the twentieth century and looks like a permanent addition to literature."

—The New York Times Book Review

October 17, 1920

"THE AGE OF INNOCENCE is a masterly achievement. In lonely contrast to almost all the novelists who write about fashionable New York, [Wharton] knows her world. . . . [Her] triumph is that she had described these rites and surfaces and burdens as familiarly as if she loved them and as lucidly as if she hated them."

—The Nation, November 3, 1920

"Mrs. Wharton opens to life a free and swinging door . . . The 'best people' are, after all, a trite subject for the analyst, but in this novel Mrs. Wharton has shown them to be, for her, a superb subject. She has made of them a clear, composed, rounded work of art . . . She has preserved a given period in her amber—a pale, pure amber that has living light."

—The New Republic, November 17, 1920

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780791049181
Publisher: Facts on File, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/28/1998
Series: Bloom's Notes Series
Pages: 90
Product dimensions: 5.51(w) x 8.66(h) x (d)

About the Author

One of our most popular, respected, and controversial literary critics, Yale University professor Harold Bloom¿s books ¿ about, variously, Shakespeare, the Bible, and the classic literature ¿ are as erudite as they are accessible.


New York, New York and New Haven, Connecticut

Date of Birth:

July 11, 1930

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


B.A., Cornell University, 1951; Ph.D., Yale University, 1955

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