9781598530551

The House of Mirth (Library of America Paperback Classics)

Wharton, Edith

ISBN 10: 1598530550 / 1-59853-055-0
ISBN 13: 9781598530551
Publisher: Library of America
Publication Date: 2009
Binding: Softcover
Editorial Reviews for this title:
Synopsis:
?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 society?against 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.


Review:
"The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth," warns Ecclesiastes 7:4, and so does the novel by Edith Wharton that takes its title from this call to heed. New York at the turn of the century was a time of opulence and frivolity for those who could afford it. But for those who couldn't and yet wanted desperately to keep up with the whirlwind, like Wharton's charming Lily Bart, it was something else altogether: a gilded cage rather than the Gilded Age.

One of Wharton's earliest descriptions of her heroine, in the library of her bachelor friend and sometime suitor Lawrence Selden, indicates that she appears "as though she were a captured dryad subdued to the conventions of the drawing room." Indeed, herein lies Lily's problem. She has, we're told, "been brought up to be ornamental," and yet her spirit is larger than what this ancillary role requires. By today's standards she would be nothing more than a mild rebel, but in the era into which Wharton drops her unmercifully, this tiny spark of character, combined with numerous assaults by vicious society women and bad luck, ultimately renders Lily persona non grata. Her own ambivalence about her position serves to open the door to disaster: several times she is on the verge of "good" marriage and squanders it at the last moment, unwilling to play by the rules of a society that produces, as she calls them, "poor, miserable, marriageable girls.

Lily's rather violent tumble down the social ladder provides a thumbnail sketch of the general injustices of the upper classes (which, incidentally, Wharton never quite manages to condemn entirely, clearly believing that such life is cruel but without alternative). From her start as a beautiful woman at the height of her powers to her sad finale as a recently fired milliner's assistant addicted to sleeping drugs, Lily Bart is heroic, not least for her final admission of her own role in her downfall. "Once--twice--you gave me the chance to escape from my life and I refused it: refused it because I was a coward," she tells Selden as the book draws to a close. All manner of hideous socialite beasts--some of whose treatment by Wharton, such as the token social-climbing Jew, Simon Rosedale, date the book unfortunately--wander through the novel while Lily plummets. As her tale winds down to nothing more than the remnants of social grace and cold hard cash, it's hard not to agree with Lily's own assessment of herself: "I have tried hard--but life is difficult, and I am a very useless person. I can hardly be said to have an independent existence. I was just a screw or a cog in the great machine I called life, and when I dropped out of it I found I was of no use anywhere else." Nevertheless, it's even harder not to believe that she deserved better, which is why The House of Mirth remains so timely and so vital in spite of its crushing end and its unflattering portrait of what life offers up. --Melanie Rehak

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Book Description: Library of America, United States, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 206 x 129 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. ?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 society?against 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781598530551

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The House of Mirth (Paperback) (ISBN: 9781598530551)
Wharton, Edith
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Book Description: Library of America, United States, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 206 x 129 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. ?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 society?against 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781598530551

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Book Description: Library of America. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 390 pages. Dimensions: 8.0in. x 5.0in. x 0.8in.If there is a more highly regarded female American author of the twentieth century, her name doesnt readily come to mind. --John Updike Born in 1862 into an exclusive New York societyagainst whose rigid mores she often rebelledEdith 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 todays most distinguished scholars and writers. Each book features a detailed chronology of the authors 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. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN, Momence,IL, Commerce,GA. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9781598530551

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