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The Age of Innocence (Modern Library)


The Age of Innocence (Modern Library) Cover


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Publisher Comments:

Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time

Newland Archer saw little to envy in the marriages of his friends, yet he prided himself that in May Welland he had found the companion of his needs--tender and impressionable, with equal purity of mind and manners. The engagement was announced discreetly, but all of New York society was soon privy to this most perfect match, a union of families and circumstances cemented by affection.

        Enter Countess Olenska, a woman of quick wit sharpened by experience, not afraid to flout convention and determined to find freedom in divorce. Against his judgment, Newland is drawn to the socially ostracized Ellen Olenska, who opens his eyes and has the power to make him feel. He knows that in sweet-tempered May, he can expect stability and the steadying comfort of duty. But what new worlds could he discover with Ellen? Written with elegance and wry precision, Edith Wharton's Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece is a tragic love story and a powerful homily about the perils of a perfect marriage.

Commentary by William Lyon Phelps and E. M. Forster

About the Author

The upper stratum of New York society into which Edith Wharton was born in 1862 provided her with an abundance of material as a novelist but did not encourage her growth as an artist. Educated by tutors and governesses, she was raised for only one career: marriage. But her marriage, in 1885, to Edward Wharton was an emotional disappointment, if not a disaster. She suffered the first of a series of nervous breakdowns in 1894. In spite of the strain of her marriage, or perhaps because of it, she began to write fiction and published her first story in 1889.

Her first published book was a guide to interior decorating, but this was followed by several novels and story collections. They were written while the Whartons lived in Newport and New York, traveled in Europe, and built their grand home, The Mount, in Lenox, Massachusetts. In Europe, she met Henry James, who became her good friend, traveling companion, and the sternest but most careful critic of her fiction. The House of Mirth (1905) was both a resounding critical success and a bestseller, as was Ethan Frome (1911). In 1913 the Whartons were divorced, and Edith took up permanent residence in France. Her subject, however, remained America, especially the moneyed New York of her youth. Her great satiric novel, The Custom of the Country was published in 1913 and The Age of Innocence won her the Pulitzer Prize in 1921.

In her later years, she enjoyed the admiration of a new generation of writers, including Sinclair Lewis and F. Scott Fitzgerald. In all, she wrote some thirty books, including an autobiography. A Backwards Glance (1934). She died at her villa near Paris in 1937.

From the Paperback edition.

Product Details

Auchincloss, Louis
Auchincloss, Louis
Introduction by:
Auchincloss, Louis
Auchincloss, Louis
Wharton, Edith
Auchincloss, Louis
Modern Library
New York :
American fiction (fictional works by one author)
Man-woman relationships
Married people
Love stories
New York
Upper class
Marriage -- New York (State) -- New York -- Fiction.
American fiction (fictional works by one auth
Psychological fiction
Literature-A to Z
fiction;classic;classics;new york;american;novel;literature;american literature;romance;pulitzer prize;20th century;society;new york city;19th century;marriage;historical fiction;pulitzer;love;edith wharton;usa;america;1920s;american fiction;wharton;women
Edition Number:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Modern Library 100 Best Novels
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
7.95x5.23x.75 in. .58 lbs.

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