Edith Wharton feared that the 'ill-bred', foreign and poor would overwhelm a native American elite. Drawing on a range of turn-of-the-century social documents, unpublished archival material and all of Wharton's novels, Jennie A. Kassanoff argues that a more accurate picture of her appreciation of American culture and democracy develops through less engagement with these controversial views. She pursues her theme by documenting Wharton's spirited participation in turn-of-the-century discourses ranging from euthanasia and tourism to pragmatism and Native Americans.
Kassanoff shows how Wharton participated in debates on race, class and democratic pluralism at the turn of the twentieth century.
Introduction: Invaders and Aborigines: playing Indian in the land of letters; 1. 'The real Lily Bart': staging race in The House of Mirth; 2. 'A close corporation': the body and the machine in The Fruit of the Tree; 3. The age of experience: pragmatism, the Titanic and The Reef; 4. Charity begins at home: Summer and the erotic tourist; Coda The Age of Innocence and the Cesnola controversy; Bibliography.
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