[KINDLE] ❃ The Age of Innocence ❆ Edith Wharton – Saudionline.co.uk

The Age of Innocence summary The Age of Innocence, series The Age of Innocence, book The Age of Innocence, pdf The Age of Innocence, The Age of Innocence 9cfc35c604 Winner Of The 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 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

10 thoughts on “The Age of Innocence

  1. says:

    We can t behave like people in novels, though, can we A few years ago, I read The Age of Innocence and thought it was okay It has something of an Austen esque feel criticisms of middle upper middle class society, paired with a subtle and clever humour and a love story here deliciously scandalous But it s taken me a few years to come back to this novel and appreciate the magic Wharton has brought to the table.This little book is so clever Everything about it from the damn title to nearly every piece of dialogue is perfectly placed and often ironic Things that didn t hit me fully the first time around became so much important in this reread Wharton knows 1870s New York City like the back of her hand she knows its habits, its traditions, and its expectations of people She creates a rich, twinkly picture of parties and social standards that is both delightful and ultimately ridiculous then she throws a spanner in the works.Never has a love triangle been so welcomed by me This isn t the modern affair we re used to, where a girl must choose between hot guy 1 and hot guy 2 Nope, in this story, Newland Archer is torn between the stability, comfort and duty he can be offered by the socially favoured match with May Welland and his passionate, all consuming love for the unconventional, rebellious and ostracized Ellen Olenska Each time you happen to me all over again It s as important as it is beautifully written Wharton casts an eye over this society, both disdainful and affectionate Incorporating issues of female emancipation into the story, never has the idea of a woman enslaved by marriage and convention seemed so unattractive from a male perspective Newland Archer is full of modernity and the call of new ideas, but finds that any freedom he poses to May she would receive only with the intention of pleasing him Though, it should be said, I believe May is far than she seems.It s hard to read the ending of this book without feeling emotional, but the exact emotion may differ with your interpretation Ambiguity reigns supreme as this novel finds its close and even the coldest of unromantics will surely have their hearts pulled along for this ride One of my favourite tragic love affairs Only, I wonder the thing one s so certain of in advance can it ever make one s heart beat as wildly Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Tumblr

  2. says:

    Part of why I love The Age of Innocence so much is for the very reason my students hate it the subtlety of action in a society constrained by its own ridiculous rules and s In Old New York, conformity is key and the upper crust go about a life of ritual that has no substance or meaning Both men and women are victims in this world as both are denied economic, intellectual, and creative outlets All the world s a stage in Wharton s New York and everyone wears a mask of society s creation Such is the norm until Newland Archer.Symbolically, Newland represents an America on the cusp of modernization, the awkward period of transition between the Victorian era and World War I At first a devout member of New York aristocracy, Newland is awakened as one from a trance with the arrival of Countess Ellen Olenska Ellen decides to separate from her abusive husband, Count Olenski, and is rud to have escaped the Count by having an affair with his secretary a scandalous circumstance that brings her back home to her native New York Vibrant, intellectual, and free spirited when compared with the dowdy and restrained women he s known, Ellen s predicament is a revelation to Newland As he himself has just ended an affair with a married woman and knows the ease with which society forgave his indiscretion when contrasted with Ellen, Newland begins to acknowledge the inequality amongst the sexes However, there s a serious roadblock to Newland ever being with the captivating Ellen Ellen is the cousin of May Welland, Newland s fiancee Wharton writes with cutting wit about the hypocritical and ludicrous customs of blue blood society and cunningly plots events to work against Newland, the archer whose target is a new land in which he and Ellen can be together The pity is that, ultimately, May proves to be the cunning huntress who cleverly stalks and traps her quarry in the labyrinth of society.Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder

  3. says:

    The longing was with him day and night, an incessant undefinable craving, like the sudden whim of a sick man for food or drink once tasted and long since forgotten He could not see beyond the craving, or picture what it might lead to, for he was not conscious of any wish to speak to Madame Olenska or to hear her voice He simply felt that if he could carry away the vision of the spot of earth she walked on, and the way the sky and sea enclosed it, the rest of the world might seem less empty There was never getting away from their circumstances for Newland and Ellen, the protagonists of The Age of Innocence As I weep for them and their unrequited love, I realized it was not meant to be Edith Wharton depicts masterfully New York s traditions and judgmental airs, which were from the start against them This elite group within which they existed had very rigid rules of behavior, social rituals, fashion, and clear censures for those that violated them There is a clear hypocrisy in their life that existed behind their conservative moral exterior In reality they all lived in a kind of hieroglyphic world, where the real thing was never said or done or even thought, but only represented by a set of arbitrary signs As I started reading Edith Wharton s crisp prose and witty dialogues, I got to know Newland Archer, May Welland and Ellen, Countess Olenska What was inescapable from the outset is that they were a product of New York society of their time.As Newland meets Countess Olenska, he is not prepared for her worldly persona Thus it is that May and Newland make their engagement public right away, to ease the acceptance of Ellen into their social pack May is considered the perfect model of what a young wife should be young, beautiful, soft, obedient, pliant, conventional, and with no opinions on anything of importance We would consider her boring, but those were different times Newland starts out pretty much the same he s a young lawyer, used to his luxurious and idle style of living all in accord with the strict rules of society Yes, both are good persons with many amiable qualities, but they simply are not exceptional They were clearly not in love, just following rituals that defined that a young man should marry a nice girl with a good family There was no better match in New York than May Welland, look at the question from what point you choose Of course such a marriage was only what Newland was entitled to Newland and Ellen s love story is nevertheless magnificent because it is the changes and character growth of both lovers that make it endearing and wonderful When we first meet Newland Archer he could not have been in tune with New York society s status quo But Newland Archer was too imaginative not to feel that, in his case and May s, the tie might gall for reasons far less gross and palpable What could he and she really know of each other, since it was his duty, as a decent fellow, to conceal his past from her, and hers, as a marriageable girl, to have no past to conceal If Newland Archer seems indecisive and hesitant, it s in part because he is conflicted with his values and desires He even starts defending new ideas, Women ought to be free as free as we are Nevertheless, it is easy to note how typical Newland Archer was when we first meet him, how judgmental, how hypocritical There was nothing mean or ungenerous in the young man s heart, and he was glad that his future wife should be restrained by false prudery from being kind in private to her unhappy cousin but to receive Countess Olenska in the family circle was a different thing from producing her in public, at the Opera of all places, and in the very box with the young girl whose engagement to him, Newland Archer, was to be announced in a few weeks No, he felt as old Sillerton Jackson felt he did not think the Mingotts would have tried it on Could he have been traditional He hated to think of May Welland s being exposed to the influence of a young woman so careless of the dictates of Taste Yes, in the beginning, he hated the idea of his innocent fianc being contaminated by the worldly Countess.Nevertheless, Newland s careful and predictable world is flipped completely upside down when he meets and really gets to know the intriguing and intrepid Countess Olenska As the plot moves on, we discovered all is not as we first envisioned Newland is changing as he falls deeper in love with Ellen He soon starts to show signs of rebelling against his previous ideals, begins transforming himself A conversation with Ellen s grandmother and family matriarch is particularly revealing Poor Ellen she was always a wayward child I wonder what her fate will be What we ve all contrived to make it, he felt like answering If you d all of you rather she should be Beaufort s mistress than some decent fellow s wife you ve certainly gone the right way about it But his transformation is not fast or deep enough, he is not able to entirely free himself from the constraints imposed on him by society and his own upbringing He is not courageous enough , you might ask His whole future seemed suddenly to be unrolled before him and passing down its endless emptiness he saw the dwindling figure of a man to whom nothing was ever to happen But there is much at play here He soon realizes how restrictive his marriage was, how loveless and lonely his life would be There was no use in trying to emancipate a wife who had not the dimmest notion that she was not free and he had long since discovered that May s only use of the liberty she supposed herself to possess would be to lay it on the altar of her wifely adoration And much , He perceived with a flash of chilling insight that in the future many problems would be thus negatively solved for him nut as he paid the hansom and followed his wife he took refuge in the comforting platitude that the first six months were always the most difficult in marriage After that I suppose we shall have pretty nearly finished rubbing off each other s angles, he reflected but the worst of it was that May s pressure was already bearing on the very angles whose sharpness he most wanted to keep Even after understanding what his marriage would make of his life, he cannot escape Outside it, in the scene of his actual life, he moved with a growing sense of unreality and insufficiency, blundering against familiar prejudices and traditional points of view as an absent minded man goes on bumping into the furniture of his own room Absent that was what he was so absent from everything most densely real and near to those about him that it sometimes startled him to find they still imagined he was there He cannot break up from convention, although he dreams of going as far as Japan with Ellen Archer had fancied that his path was clear before him He had meant to have a word alone with Madame Olenska, and failing that, to learn from her grandmother on what day, and by which train, she was returning to Washington In that train he intended to join her, and travel with her to Washington, or as much farther as she was willing to go His own fancy inclined to Japan Even if the story is told through Newland s point of view, we cannot forget how much Ellen suffered Probably even than him, since it seems she had no choice Oh, I know I know But on condition that they don t hear anything unpleasant Aunt Welland put it in those very words when I tried Does no one want to know the truth here, Mr Archer The real loneliness is living among all these kind people who only ask one to pretend She lifted her hands to her face, and he saw her thin shoulders shaken by a sob We also soon discover that May is not so innocent Although all her fight seems to be enforced to defend her marriage, its survival, and in that she would never change What she learned with her mother she would repeat in her marriage Now she was simply ripening into a copy of her mother, and mysteriously, by the very process, trying to turn him into a Mr Welland. No, she was never weak just limited I told her I was afraid I hadn t been fair to her hadn t always understood how hard it must have been for her here, alone among so many people who were relations and yet strangers who felt the right to criticise, and yet didn t always know the circumstances She paused I knew you d been the one friend she could always count on and I wanted her to know that you and I were the same in all our feelings But Newland was still dreaming of breaking away from everything, of being with Ellen He tells May he needs to get away, but she was ahead of him Not an innocent at all I want to take a break A break To give up law To go away, at any rate at once On a long trip, ever so far off away from everything He paused, conscious that he had failed in his attempt to speak with the indifference of a man who longs for a change and is yet too weary to welcome it Do what he would, the chord of eagerness vibrated Away from everything he repeated Ever so far Where, for instance she asked Oh, I don t know India or Japan As far as that But I m afraid you can t, dear Not unless you take me with you That is, if the doctors let me go but I m afraid they won t For you see, Newland, I ve been sure since this morning of something I ve been longing and hoping for Have you told anyone else Only Mama and your mother That is and Ellen You know I told you we d had a long talk one afternoon and how dear she was to me Ah said Archer, his heart stopping What I concluded is that Newland might be rebellious while May is until the end tradition itself This pattern we witness endlessly, and when Newland ponders what their marriage and family life had been like it is all summed so clearly This hard bright blindness had kept her immediate horizon apparently unaltered Her incapacity to recognize change made her children conceal their views from her as Archer concealed his there had been, from the first, a joint pretense of sameness, a kind of innocent family hypocrisy, in which father and children had unconsciously collaborated For one thing, his life as a man allowed him freedom even to circumvent social customs for he was not as closely watched Not that it was easier for him, for he struggles between social conformity and honesty to one s emotions And not that May would want to change She was set on her role without any uncertainty.And often we see him contradict himself Despite his transformation, we realize he will always be a 19th century man, as we witness him saying things such as What could he and she really know of each other, since it was his duty, as a decent fellow, to conceal his past from her, and hers, as a marriageable girl, to have no past to conceal , while later he will dream of running away with Ellen.The essence of Edith Wharton s novel is whether Newland and Ellen ever had a chance Not at their time And Ellen recognizes reality Ah, my poor Newland I suppose this had to be You re engaged to May Welland and I m married And Newland replied, It s too late to do anything else. To apart mean a return to their old respective life patterns, but to be together would mean going against what they both loved the most in the other I can t love you unless I give you up. Being together would mean breaking too many rules, hurting loved ones, and carrying a guilt that would ultimately separate them if not physically for certain emotionally But you knew you understood you had felt the world outside tugging at one with all its golden hands and yet you hated the things it asks of one you hated happiness bought by disloyalty and cruelty and indifference That was what I d never known before and it s better than anything I ve known This great work is a bittersweet love story at the mercy of society s morals and ethics, with conflicting values that prevents them from realizing their most ardent desire to be together I d say this is the strong and beautiful point of this classic The idea that he could ever, in his senses, have dreamed of marrying Countess Olenska had become almost unthinkable, and she remained in his memory simply as the most plaintive and poignant of a line of ghosts Even heartfelt The long was with him day and night, an incessant undeniable craving, like the sudden whim of a sick man for food or drink once tasted and long since forgotten The characters are forced to adjust and readjust to their changing life, but that is still not enough At least it was not in their lifetime The changes they go through are not deep enough to allow them a happy ever after How painful to live through this changing times and how dreadful to accept their fate I can just imagine and suffer for them, and weep for them Here lies the greatness of The Age of Innocence Their fate was to be apart, and so nothing rests for them but to keep their memories intact It s what we lost and our memories that stay with us If he had gone up to meet her, it would be another story It s real to me here than if I went up, he suddenly heard himself say and the fear lest that last shadow of reality should lose its edge kept him rooted to his seat as the minutes succeeded each other Oh, I have to repeat myself there is nothing heartbreaking than unrequited love So I weep again for them My first impressions I can t love you unless I give you up Oh, Vessey, I just finished The Age of Innocence And I have to tell you that the last 10% conquered me It made it me think that it had to be They were set on their way before Ellen arrived and Newland and Amy made public their engagement And I believe it had to end as it did Suddenly, I discovered it deserved 5 full stars It s what we lost and our memories that stay with us If he had gone up to meet her, it would be another story.I loved how it analyzed his marriage with May, the old costumes that are no That hypocritical society that held him down is finally fading But too late for Ellen and Newland Well, it is all still too new to me, and the only thing I can say is that it touched me deeply Maybe because of my age, since I know enough of life and remember all that I lost and could never simply be revisited It s real to me here than if I went up, he suddenly heard himself say and the fear lest that last shadow of reality should lose its edge kept him rooted to his seat as the minutes succeeded each other There is nothing heartbreaking than unrequited love So I weep for them.____

  4. says:

    Appearances can be deceiving as this superb classic novel revealsNewland Archer has the perfect life rich young and good looking, a member in excellent standing of New York s High Society of 1871 during the Golden Age These people feel not like prisoners, but brave members of a group keeping back the barbarians at the gate Newland is engaged to a beautiful charming girl May Welland also in the exclusive association, who loves him But then her mysterious cousin arrives from Europe, Countess Ellen Olenska married to a brute a Polish nobleman who repeatedly degrades her, showing contempt for their marriage by parading lowly women in front of the Countess Not trying to hide his transgressions, letting the world know it The fleeing woman is a childhood playmate of Mr Archer, and he can still remember her as she, he First seeing the fugitive again at the Opera, with his future bride and family in their box May loves her cousin and Ellen, loves May The Countess causes quite a stir with the audience, men look approvingly at the attractive lady, women critical Poor Ellen as the relatives call her, living with an unconventional grandmother Mrs Manson Mingott so obese she needs help to get up, nevertheless the lady is the head of the family and people listen to, even though she has strange ways then again very rich but stingy There is an unstated powerful attraction between Archer and Ellen, still duty prevents anything unsavory from happening besides Newland, believes in the proper way of doing things A self described dilettante who goes through the motions of being a lawyer, in an office where he has little to do Archer lives with his widowed mother Mrs Adeline Archer, she is forever saying that everything is changing for the worse in the city and spinster sister Janey, they look so alike the two could be sisters, both depend on each other for companionship He s a secret fanatic a bookworm receiving the latest editions from London, staying in a room reading that s when the gentleman is happy Mr Archer has no close friends the only person he can feel comfortable with, be himself is Ned Winsett a penniless struggling journalist, but of the lower class with a sick wife Newland wants his wedding to happen earlier than is the established custom, hoping temptations will end if he is married to May Even traveling to St.Augustine, Florida, on a surprise visit, where May is vacationing with her family for that purpose, his boss is not elated Mr Archer is wrong , clearly the gentleman loves the Countess and she returns the sentiment Boorish banker Julius Beaufort vastly wealthy, an uncouth foreigner married to an influential and quite proper lady a New York society woman with a propensity to break all the rules, is chasing the skittish Ellen she needs to get away They meet clandestinely in Boston the Countess and Archer away from the prying eyes of everyone, the two hope just to hold each other At a family gathering in Newport, Rhode Island, Newland is told to fetch Ellen, he goes down to the beach sees her on the pier, passionately stares for a long time and retreats back to the house, it would not be proper he thinks An elegy saturates the whole book, from the first page to the last.

  5. says:

    Each time you happen to me all over again Imagine that person you love most in this world, right within your grasp, but somehow out of reach An invisible thin wall keeping you apart Apart but not away from each other Together yet not with each other This is the worst form of torture, a torture of invisible chains and soundless screams Constantly seeing each other, constantly being reminded of what cannot be Constantly falling in love yet constantly falling apart The urge, the love, the longing constantly growing, engulfing you until you cannot bear to live Every part of your body numb and unaware of the realities around you Because for you, only the pain you feel is real The only truth you know is that everything is a lie Edith Wharton paints a very delicate picture that resonates elegiac waves and enraptures its readers to the very bone One can t help but succumb to this level of desire, of emotion and empathize because of the atmosphere that Wharton has created Her prose is crisp, straight and true One might say that her prose is a reflection of her New York socialite self Wharton was born with quite a few gazillion silver spoons stuck somewhere on her buttocks Aside from that, with such a dazzling foray of words, she evoked such emotion in me that I was afraid I might like her Facebook page at some point So with that in mind, I vowed to refrain from using Facebook until I ve finished reading this book Well, it worked fine for me On another note, I was really impressed with her depiction of the 1870s New York Based on a little research I did, her canvas of the place was just spot on splendid It was the spirit of it the spirit of the exquisite romantic pain The idea that the mere touching of a woman s hand would suffice The idea that seeing her across the room would keep him alive for another year That sort of a relationship, that unique communication between two people savagely drawn to the other like moth to a flame is of a different level than all the other types of communication This communication between them is that of the deepest kind A communication that needs not one of the five senses This communication of feeling, of intense knowing, of mutual understanding, this unity of the mind, this shared consciousness is the effect of a love that knows no bounds, strengthened to an insane proportion by the fact that it was never meant to be The real loneliness is living among all these kind people who only ask one to pretend What s the use You gave me my glimpse of a real life, and at the same moment you asked me to go on with a sham one But what really struck me the most was that irony that these two people enlightened to be different from the pretend people , who revile them and mockingly laugh at their trained innocence and hapless practices were to be subjected to a pretend relationship as well In reality they all lived in a kind of hieroglyphic world, where the real thing was never said or done or even thought, but only represented by a set of arbitrary signs They that were above that Innocence were cruelly placed upon a circumstance in which they have to feign Innocence as well, as the only way to sustain their love for each other I can t love you unless I give you up This has led me to believe that such innocence can only be a result of circumstances beyond their powers That altogether this Innocence is merely through the progression of unstoppable forces not necessarily known to the person it affects Such is also the case with the New York Society These people did not choose to succumb to this veiled innocence, it was mercilessly hurled at them They were raised in these circumstances, in a society where conformity is the norm and to question this conformity would be self abdication Thus, these people will die by this code This Age of Innocence reflects a view in which Newland Archer is also an innocent victim He thinks his wife too much of an innocent being that he is surprised in the end and utterly moved when he finds out that she is not so innocent at all And the lifting of this veil seemed a wake up call to him at the very end, when he was about to meet the Countess Olenska with his son, that he realizes that he has lost this innocence She had become the symbol of everything that could have been, all his hopes and dreams She was the unreachable star In the end, he was afraid that all that sustained his love was that invisible shackle, that sense of longing, that feigned innocence And that the innocence was all that kept him to Ellen, and without it, he cannot bear to face her And you ll sit beside me, and we ll look, not at visions, but at realities I don t know what you mean by realities The only reality to me is this The dream has become a reality and the reality a dream It s real to me here than if I went up, he suddenly heard himself say and the fear lest that last shadow of reality should lose its edge kept him rooted to his seat as the minutes succeeded each other.

  6. says:

    Myself and the Pulitzer prize have previously not always seen eye to eye, but Finally, I have read one worthy of giving top marks to This golden oldie captures the wholesome atmosphere of American life and the highest standard of American manners and manhood from a bygone era, where modern ideas are resisted and tradition overcomes compassion The inhabitants of this hothouse of New York society is built on wealth, life is lavished, easy and comfortably cushioned, but this world may just as well have been covered in a blanket of cobwebs, as the lives are so sedate and uneventfully dull, despite their opulent surroundings, they appear colourless and motionless It is ultimately a tragic tale that Wharton weaves, and yes, as with a lot of classic fiction based around love, it s told with air of melancholy because this love is one that doesn t really get off the ground For Newland Archer, the leading male character, there is an imagining of an alternative existence to the one that convention has pressed upon him, he has built within himself a kind of sanctuary for his secret thoughts and longings Within these walls are his bride to be, May Welland and Countess Olenska, who would change his whole world The real loneliness is living among all these kind people who only ask one to pretend Archer is a perfect product of Old New York, a member of one of the most prominent, historic families, he lives in the obligatory sumptuous brownstone on Fifth Avenue with his mild mannered mother and spinster sister, and languidly pursues the law as most gentlemen of his age and inherited wealth do He is engaged to the young, beautiful, and equally impeccably bred May Welland, who is sweet sweet natured but naive After twelve years away returns the Countess Ellen Olenska, May s cousin, who through no fault of her own upsets the balance of Newland s life She is beautiful, vivacious and intelligent, whose long period of living in liberal European surroundings has made her innocent of the nonsensical, unspoken rules of the society she has reentered, and incapable of maintaining the shallow facade of her female relatives Newland feels a life of quiet misery lies ahead, and despairs over Olenska as they grow closer and closer, because he is forced, by his own realisation, to know how Ellen will be treated if she dares to divorce her husband, and advises against it, even though he is devoured by love for her Wharton mesmerizes with the sheer depth of emotion, pain, and frustration bearing down on Newland s shoulders, he really is stuck between a rock and a hard place Through thwarted dreams, despairing disillusionment, unbearable regrets and the innocence that seals the mind against imagination and the heart against experience, Newland and Ellen share a secret love that enables each of them to be the best people they can be, fulfilled intellectually, emotionally and socially, and the fact they can never be together in harmony is just as unbearable for the reader as it is for the characters, and this is where Wharton excels with people you truly believe in For May, she is neither clever nor truthful, and only rarely shows a spirit that reveals a depth of feeling in the face of connvention and social expectations In telling the story of how Archer and Olenska, against all the strictures and taboos of their society, fall in love, Wharton seems to be siding with the individual in this universal tug of war But I don t think it s ever that simple Certainly, New York s upper society in the 1870s was one of grandeur, but it is described in Archer s thoughts and Wharton s observations as a prison of the mind, one where the cells are sprinkled with gold dust.The finale, of many years later, moved me immensely, I thought of all that went before, a story that in terms of characterisation was searing on every page with the intensity of this doomed love affair A stunning novel, impeccably told And I think it s unfair to simply label this as old fashioned chick lit because it s about so much than what appears on the surface Her tone is sardonic and to some extent cynical of the social world into which the reader enters, and she portrays this society, its conventions and traditions, through the unforgettable vivid characters whose behaviour and thinking were moulded in time.

  7. says:

    This book, which examines lives stifled by the social conventions of 1870s Manhattan, is a classic masterpiece precisely because it is anything but conventional Ironically, it had me longing for the lovers to dip their toes in love story convention by finding a hotel room, at least once , especially with lines like this one Each time you happen to me all over again Oh, Newland Archer Oh, Ellen Olenska But no, the brilliant Edith Wharton doesn t allow it She stays the course, showing the follies of Old New York society, the sometimes impossible and suffocating nature of marriage, and the changeability of social s that seem so important in the moment but which are forgotten with the passing of a few years She also shows how both noble and tragic it is to do the right thing rather than chasing happiness where it flies.The poignancy of resignation and missed opportunities reminds me of similar themes addressed in The Remains of the Day And though Wharton s Pulitzer Prize winning novel was written almost a hundred years ago, it still feels fresh and relevant.This was my second reading of this book The last time I read it was probably two decades ago, so it was almost like I was reading it for the first time The only thing I can remember of my first reading was the feeling I had as I turned the last page The overwhelming sense of I loved this, and must read it again I had the same experience this time I guess some things just don t change.

  8. says:

    Yes indeedy, what could be jejune than another early 20th century novelist choosing as her subject the problematic relations between the sexes amongst the idle rich D H Lawrence and Henry James do the same, the first like a big dog gnawing at a bone and finding something it mistakes for God in the marrow, and the latter in his infinite cheeseparings putting the whole thing into the form of a three dimensional chess game played by sardonic French subatomic particle physicists who you suspect own little dogs, the kind you want to step on and squish And many other novelists great and small dance about on the same subject.Well, Edith Wharton starts off like she is trying to get at something very interesting in The Age of Innocence Here is the young man contemplating his future marriage What could he and she really know of each other, since it was his duty, as a decent fellow, to conceal his past from her, and hers, as a marriageable girl, to have no past to conceal He reviewed his friends marriages the supposedly happy ones and saw none that answered, even remotely, to the passionate and tender comradeship which he pictured as his permanent relation with May Welland He perceived that such a picture presupposed, on her part, the experience, the versatility, the freedom of judgement, which she had been carefully trained not to possess and with a shiver of foreboding he saw his marriage becoming what most of the other marriages about him were a dull association of material and social interests held together by ignorance on the one side and hypocrisy on the other.Much later the young man sadly muses thus There was no use in trying to emancipate a wife who had not the dimmest notion that she was not free apart from making you think how very rude this begs the question what liberty, exactly, did this proto feminist man suppose could be accessed by upperclass females in the 1870s in New York Edith Wharton s clear intelligence makes me think that ambiguity clouds these various musings only because she fears she s already been too bold So this compelling theme gets lost when she subtly changes gear Still, there are enough zingers to keep you reading and relishing for instance What if niceness in a wife carried to that supreme degree were only a negation, the curtain dropped before an emptiness Hmm, what if indeed Or, concerning the rigours of class in New York, It seems stupid to have discovered America only to make it into a copy of another country nice one, Edith There s no getting away from it, Edith is indeed Henry James in drag, and this novel is kissing cousins to the early HJs like Washington Square, The Bostonians and The Portrait of a Lady These idle rich, they re dull buggers you know indeed Edith goes on and on about just how boring their lives are as she describes the dining, the travelling, the frittering, the spending, the ladylike sports the ladylike ladies did archery no, not nude mud wrestling, what large sums would I not pay to read Edith Wharton describing such a scene , the families, the clans, their history, their posh houses, their posh horses oh please spare us half way through you really wish that the fabric of space and time should rend asunder and a scary bunch of Sendero Luminoso guerillas break into the great ballrooms and dining rooms and haul the whole pack of them off to the sweaty jungles of Colombia for some serious political indoctrination Plot spoiler this does not happen Instead, this book is a study of circumscription and circumspection, of people the hero, the heroine and the wife not getting what they want And as such, when we are able to skirt round the pages of orotund description A winding drive led up between the iron stags and blue glass balls embedded in mounds of geraniums to a front door of highly varnished walnut under a striped verandah roof and behind it ran a narrow hall with a black and yellow star patterned parquet floor upon which opened four small square rooms with heavy flock papers under ceilings on which an Italian house painter had lavished all the divinities of Olympus did you get all that Mr Set Designer the heart of this tale is sad and almost beautifully done But really mimsy with it PS I saw the movie too which was as elegant as all get out, apart from the dodgy Enya like song splodged in the middle That Michelle Pfeiffer cor, blimey I wouldn t kick her out of bed Still and all, the movie is a 100 minute argument as to why you should read the book instead, because what s missing is Edith Wharton s mind, which is a great place to dally in You get voice overs in the movie which only serve to remind you how literary adaptations, however spiffily dressed up and aren t they all are not the real deal, they re the unreal deal These movies are like aides memoires on gorgeous notepaper written with a ten thousand dollar pen The note says read the book.

  9. says:

    Heading for a hospital stay I decided to treat myself to a pleasant historical novel with a dash of romance BIG mistake, if this is romantic take me to the nunnery.Okay, the ugliness of the story is offset by the beauty of the writing, and it is gorgeous, I d read this author again but still This isn t so much a review as an attempt to purge this pile of hooey from my subconscious 1st off the main protagonist Newland Archer is a celebration of hypocrisy A man who makes a CLEAR choice view spoiler he knew he loved another woman but married anyway hide spoiler

  10. says:

    The air of ideas is the only air worth breathing Just when I think a classic unlikely to give me pause, it surprises me with relatable themes After reading Wharton s short story, The Muse s Tragedy one of the supplemental reads I ll be teaching this Fall , I knew I had to visit one of her longer forms So rewarding it was, to be wooed by elegant prose and positioning a plot that moves in practiced laps a story that could be yours, mine, theirs a setting that will always be known for both its vibrance and austerity Wharton is a writer of words nestled in conscious rhythm, the director of a play that centers around societal distinctions like class and gender, yet still embodies universal themes of love, betrayal, and self actualization Wharton writing from a male s perspective reminds me of Cather, in My ntonia they do it so well, so authentically She had Henry James as a mentor, and yet I prefer her books to his although I see a resemblance to my favorite James book to date The American His whole future seemed suddenly to be unrolled before him and passing down its endless emptiness he saw the dwindling figure of a man to whom nothing was ever to happen Countess Olenska is not just a woman ostracized in 1920s New York Society she is symbolic of New York on the verge of change, the cusp of a new era she is love and beauty and complications she is pain, consolation, a new life which uncovers an insipid way of living The Countess represents fresh ideas, a new way of thinking, a society that doesn t place class and materialism before all else, a bohemian way of being The Countess is hope I realize I m taking an unorthodox stand, seeing as how the Countess also represents infidelity and betrayal, and the uproot of normalcy Yet knowing Newland s choices when he meets Ellen, one knows that in the end, he ll make a decision forced upon him by his society In the end, we see his gratitude for life, and the regrets from his choices, which once again, reminds us of the complications of life Wharton leaves us with an ending rife with speculative contemplations, and as readers, we become just like her characters Something he knew he had missed the flower of life But he thought of it now as a thing so unattainable and improbable that to have repined would have been like despairing because one had not drawn the first prize in a lottery Conventional New York was not ready for the Countess The city had not yet formed itself into the diverse structure it now is, with a roadway tunnel that traverses the Hudson river, and a train station that connects you with New Jersey and Pennsylvania In fact, conventional New York City was also unprepared for The Harlem Renaissance, taking place only a few blocks away, in the same decade and the same world, yet separate and forgotten like Ellen Olenska But then you come and you re so much than I remembered, and what I want of you is so much than an hour or two every now and then, with wastes of thirsty waiting between, that I can sit perfectly still beside you, like this, with that other vision in my mind, just quietly trusting it to come true

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