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The Age of Innocence (New Riverside Editons) Paperback – April 3, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0395980798 ISBN-10: 0395980798 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: New Riverside Editons
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Cengage Learning; 1 edition (April 3, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395980798
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395980798
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (366 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #726,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Somewhere in this book, Wharton observes that clever liars always come up with good stories to back up their fabrications, but that really clever liars don't bother to explain anything at all. This is the kind of insight that makes The Age of Innocence so indispensable. Wharton's story of the upper classes of Old New York, and Newland Archer's impossible love for the disgraced Countess Olenska, is a perfectly wrought book about an era when upper-class culture in this country was still a mixture of American and European extracts, and when "society" had rules as rigid as any in history. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Editor's Introduction by Carol J. Singley A Note on the Text I. The Age of Innocence II. Background Readings Questions of Culture Thomas Bender, from "The Metropolitan Gentry: Culture against Politics" George Sanyayana, from "The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy" Walt Whitman, from "Democratic Vistas" Calvin Tomkins, from "Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of the Metropolitan Museum of Art" Ida Van Gastel, "The Location and Decoration of Houses in The Age of Innocence" Marriage and Divorce Steven Mintz and Susan Kellogg, from Domestic Revolutions J. Foote Bingham, from "For the Wedding Night" Travel and Sport Donald Ross and James J. Schramer, from the Introduction to American Travel Writers, 1850-1915 Henry James, from "Americans Abroad" Henry James, from "Newport" William J. Baker, from "The Lawn Set" III. Other Writings by Edith Wharton Writing The Age of Innocence The Ways of Old New York The Childishness of American Women "The Valley of Childish Things" Winning the Pulitizer Prize IV. Critical Readings Alan Price, from "The Composition of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence" Elizabeth Ammons, from "Cool Diana and the Blood-Red Muse: Edith Wharton on Innocence and Art" Judith P. Saunders, from "Becoming the Mask: Edith Wharton's Ingenues" Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, from "Angel of Devastation: Edith Wharton on the Arts of the Enslaved" Katherine Joslin, from "The Age of Innocence and the Bohemian Peril" James W. Tuttleton, from "Edith Wharton: The Archeological Motive" Nancy Bentley, from "'Hunting for the Real': Wharton and the Science of Manners" Linda W. Wagner, from "A Note on Wharton's Use of Faust" Gary H. Lindberg, from "The Mind in Chains: Public Plots and Personal Fables" Donald Pizer, from "American Naturalism in Its 'Perfected' State: The Age of Innocence and An American Tragedy Ian Christie, from "The Scorsese Interview: On Filming The Age of Innocence" Gore Vidal, "Of Writers and Class: In Praise of Edith Wharton"

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Customer Reviews

This beautifully written book is definitely one of the best books of twentieth century as well as Edith Wharton's masterpiece.
Gözde Erdeniz
Newland Archer has it all -- he's wealthy, well respected in New York Society, and has recently become engaged to the lovely, if predictable, May Welland.
Shelby Miller
The author pulls the reader into this world, makes the time and characters familiar, looking forward to a resolution of the inherent conflicting forces.
Tom K.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

182 of 183 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 13, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
It was a glittering, sumptuous time when hypocrisy was expected, discreet infidelity tolerated, and unconventionality ostracized.

That is the Gilded Age, and nobody knew its hypocrises better than Edith Wharton.... and nobody portrayed them as well. "The Age of Innocence" is a trip back in time to the stuffy upper crust of "old New York," taking us through one respectable man's hopeless love affair with a beautiful woman -- and the life he isn't brave enough to have.

Newland Archer, of a wealthy old New York family, has become engaged to pretty, naive May Welland. But as he tries to get their wedding date moved up, he becomes acquainted with May's exotic cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska, who has returned home after dumping her cheating husband. At first, the two are just friends, but Newland becomes more and more entranced by the Countess' easy, free-spirited European charm.

After Newland marries May, the attraction to the mysterious Countess and her free, unconventional life becomes even stronger. He starts to rebel in little ways, but he's still mired in a 100% conventional marriage, job and life. Will he become an outcast and go away with the beautiful countess, or will he stick with May and the safe, dull life that he has condemned in others?

There's nothing too scandalous about "Age of Innocence" in a time when starlets acquire and discard boyfriends and husbands like old pantyhose -- it probably wasn't in the 1920s when it was first published. But then, this isn't a book about sexiness and steam -- it's part bittersweet romance, part social satire, and a look at what happens when human beings lose all spontaneity and passion.
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64 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on March 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
Newland Archer, the protagonist of this ironically entitled novel set in the late nineteenth century, is a proper New York gentleman, and part of a society which adheres to strict social codes, subordinating all aspects of life to doing what is expected, which is synonymous with doing what it right. As the author remarks early in the novel, "Few things were more awful than an offense against Taste." Newland meets and marries May Welland, an unimaginative, shallow young woman whose upbringing has made her the perfect, inoffensive wife, one who knows how to behave and how to adhere to the "rules" of the society in which they live.

When Newland is reintroduced to May's cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska, who has left her husband in Europe and now wants a divorce, he finds himself utterly captivated by her independence and her willingness to risk all, socially, by flouting convention. Both Ellen and Newland are products of their upbringing and their culture, however, and they resist their feelings because of their separate social obligations. Various meetings between them suggest that their feelings are far stronger than what is obvious on the surface, and the question of whether they will finally state the obvious or act on their feelings constitutes the plot.

Wharton creates an exceptionally realistic picture of New York in the post-Civil War era, a time in which aristocrats of inherited wealth found themselves competing socially with parvenus. Her ability to show the conflict between a person's need for social acceptance and the desire for personal freedom is striking.
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 6, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Newland Archer, the protagonist of this ironically entitled novel set in the late nineteenth century, is a proper New York gentleman, and part of a society which adheres to strict social codes, subordinating all aspects of life to doing what is expected, which is synonymous with doing what it right. As the author remarks early in the novel, "Few things were more awful than an offense against Taste." Newland meets and marries May Welland, an unimaginative, shallow young woman whose upbringing has made her the perfect, inoffensive wife, one who knows how to behave and how to adhere to the "rules" of the society in which they live.

When Newland is reintroduced to May's cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska, who has left her husband in Europe and now wants a divorce, he finds himself utterly captivated by her freedom and her willingness to risk all, socially, by flouting convention. Both Ellen and Newland, however, are products of their upbringing and their culture, and they dutifully resist their feelings because of their separate social obligations. Various meetings between them suggest that their feelings are far stronger than what is obvious on the surface, and the question of whether either of them will finally state their feelings pervades the novel.

Wharton creates an exceptionally realistic picture of New York in the post-Civil War era, a time in which aristocrats of inherited wealth found themselves competing socially with parvenus, and social rules were changing. Her ability to show the conflict between a person's desire for freedom and his/her need for social acceptance is striking.
Read more ›
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