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The Age of Innocence

4.3 out of 5 stars 617 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0684719252
ISBN-10: 0684719258
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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Webster’s edition of this classic is organized to expose the reader to a maximum number of difficult and potentially ambiguous English words. Rare or idiosyncratic words and expressions are given lower priority compared to "difficult, yet commonly used" words. Rather than supply a single translation, many words are translated for a variety of meanings in Spanish, allowing readers to better grasp the ambiguity of English, and avoid them using the notes as a pure translation crutch. Having the reader decipher a word’s meaning within context serves to improve vocabulary retention and understanding. Each page covers words not already highlighted on previous pages. If a difficult word is not translated on a page, chances are that it has been translated on a previous page. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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 alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 361 pages
  • Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons (January 1, 1968)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684719258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684719252
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (617 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,651,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By EA 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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Format: Hardcover
I find it interesting and in some ways disturbing how few (openly at least) female viewpoints are expressed among the reviews of this book. Indeed, some of reviews make it appear that there are quite a few males out there who believe females are a sexual "tabula rasa" on which they can write their judgements of what constitutes morally appropriate behavior.
This book must be understood not simply as art, but as a psychological statement, namely that sexuality exists within each of us from infancy on and parents and society deny that at their own risk.
When I was the age of the girls in this book there was no one with the courage to come forward and openly depict the flowering of female sexuality. I lived with confusion and shame about my body and my desires, hurtful feelings that lasted until I was well into my adulthood.
I came across this book in a store one day while looking for something else. I spotted the title and I vaguely remembered a news story about some people wanting to ban it, so I thought I would look at it out of curiosity. The images in it were so beautiful I almost started to cry right there, it was as though I found vindication for the very core of my being.
After taking it home, I decided to share it with my nine-year old daughter with whom I had just recently had "The Talk". It was wonderful being able to show her how her body would change and how she would be beautiful even as she changed from a girl into a woman. It is true there are already books out there that are supposed to address the issue, but so often they take a clinical approach that is scary in its own right.
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1 Comment 96 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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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8 Comments 78 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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