Love Lost, Love Found, Illicit Love All?
"Roman Fever" is a short story by American writer Edith Wharton. It was first published in the magazine Liberty in 1934, and was later included in Wharton's last short-story collection, The World Over.
The setting of the story takes place in the afternoon, in the city of Rome. Two wealthy middle-aged widowed women are visiting Rome with their two unmarried daughters. The exotic setting illustrates the power and class from which the women hail, but the Old Rome context, such as the Colosseum, insinuates Roman Empire-style intrigue.
The protagonists are Grace Ansley and Alida Slade, two middle-aged American women who are visiting Rome with their daughters, Barbara Ansley and Jenny Slade. The elder women grew up in Manhattan, New York, and were friends from childhood. A youthful and romantic rivalry led Mrs. Slade to nurture feelings of jealousy and hatred against Mrs. Ansley.
Mrs. Ansley and Mrs. Slade have a bittersweet relationship filled with envy, betrayal, and competition. They compare their lifelong battle for one man, Delphin Slade, and now quarrel regarding who has the more impressive daughter, both of whom, ironically, share the same father...
In The Reckoning (first published 1902) the relatively young Edith Wharton was thinking critically about the issues of personal liberty within marriage, the grounds for divorce, and the possible consequences of sexual liberty, long before her own affair with Morton Fullerton in 1908 and her eventual divorce from her husband Teddy Wharton in 1912.
About the Author: Edith Wharton (born Edith Newbold Jones; January 24, 1862 – August 11, 1937) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and designer. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1927, 1928 and 1930. Wharton combined her insider's view of America's privileged classes with a brilliant, natural wit to write humorous, incisive novels and short stories of social and psychological insight. She was well acquainted with many of her era's other literary and public figures, including Theodore Roosevelt.
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Edith Wharton was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, known for such classics as The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome, and The Age of Innocence, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921. A member of the New York elite, Wharton drew on her experiences as part of society to critique its inner workings and the conflict between personal desires and societal norms. Wharton died in 1937, leaving behind a rich literary legacy.
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