Winner of the first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded to a book written by a woman, The Age of Innocence is a suspenseful, deeply moving, and brilliantly accomplished. It subsequently appeared in book form from the American publisher D Appleton & Company of New York. In , The Age of Innocence. The Age of Innocence (Modern Library Best Novels) [Edith Wharton, Louis The book hinges on the words people are “chained to separate destinies,” and.
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The Age of Innocence is a novel by American author Edith Wharton. It was her twelfth novel, and was initially serialized in in four parts, in the magazine Pictorial Review. Later that year, it was released as a book by D. Appleton & Company. The Age of Innocence book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, The Age of Innocence is. Also by Edith Wharton · The House of Mirth · Ethan Frome · The Custom of the Country · The House of Mirth · Three Novels of New York. See all books by Edith .
Edith Wharton nee Newbold Jones , who was born into a rich and distinguished New York family in , is perhaps a great city's greatest novelist. From The House of Mirth to The Custom of the Country to her masterpiece The Age of Innocence , Wharton's subject was the changing scene of New York City, the foibles of its fashionable elites and the ambitions of the "new people" who, she felt, threatened its traditional culture. Wharton was also close to Henry James whom she described as "perhaps the most intimate friend I ever had, though in many ways we were so different". Together, from to the end of the Great War, the work of James and Wharton dominates American literature. The Age of Innocence tells the story of a forthcoming society wedding, and the threat to the happy couple from the appearance in their midst of an exotic and beautiful femme fatale, a cousin of the bride. Newland Archer the name makes a nod to James's heroine Isabel Archer is a distinguished lawyer looking forward to his marriage to shy, lovely, sheltered May Welland. But when he meets Countess Ellen Olenska, scandalously separated from her European husband, a Polish count, he falls hopelessly in love and blights his marriage to May by failing to break off his relationship with the countess.
On a visit by Archer to the family in St. I tell my wife and May that I want to teach them how to rough it. Life is easy and comfortable and cushioned, if a bit dull. Archer and Olenska are drawn to each other because, unlike other clan members, they glimpse the wider world with curious eyes.
In the tribe, they are oddballs. Indeed, several times through the novel, one or another of the characters says to Archer — in what can be read as a joking manner although it also most likely contains some element of insight — that he really should be marrying or have married Olenska. Alas, Olenska is already married to a brutal Polish count from whose home in Europe she has fled with the help, and perhaps succor, of a male secretary to the safety and acceptance of her family and friends in New York.
Any attempt to divorce him could bring scandal to her name. Archer, of course, is about to marry May. They fall in love. They could chuck it all, run off together to wherever. Archer and Olenska have played it straight, never crossing the line to a sexual affair. The expression of their passion for each other is limited to a couple kisses. Yet, Archer comes to realize that everyone in his circle believes them lovers and is working to keep them apart.
Illusions would be dashed. May would be left husband-less. Deeply held rules would be broken. All of which is true, and is the impetus for May and her family to exert such powerful pressure and carry out such sly machinations to block the couple. More directly and more completely, the lives that would have been destroyed if Archer and Olenska had gone off together would have been their own. They would have been shunned by society, not only by the rich and high-born in New York but everywhere else in the world.
They would have been slicing away the sinews and tissues that intimately integrated them into the body of their clan.
She comes to Mrs. Mingott to ask for a loan when her husband's bank fails. Her visit causes Mrs. Mingott to have a stroke. Janey Archer: Archer's dowdy, unmarried sister who never goes out and relies on Archer. She and her mother invite guests to dinner so they can gossip about New York society. Janey disapproves of Ellen, because she is unconventional and independent, and does not simply tolerate her husband's abuse. Adeline Archer: Archer's widowed mother.
She does not get out to events often, but loves to hear about society. She and Janey strongly believe in the values of New York society. Like Janey, she views Ellen with suspicion. Henry van der Luyden is her cousin.
She is said to be based partly on Edith Wharton's own mother, Lucretia Rhinelander. Lemuel Struthers: A woman on the fringes of New York society. She is treated with mistrust and scorn until Ellen befriends her. She eventually becomes popular; at the end of the novel, May thinks it appropriate to go to her parties. Count Olenski: Ellen's husband, a dissolute aristocrat who drove Ellen away with neglect and misery. At first, Count Olenski is content to let Ellen go.
Later, though, he sends his secretary to America to ask Ellen to return, with the stipulation that she only appear as his hostess occasionally. He never appears in the story, but is described as half paralyzed and very pale, with thick feminine eyelashes. He constantly cheats on Ellen, and a veiled remark of Lefferts' implies that he copulates with men, too. What other abuses and infidelities he commits are unknown, but he seems quite malicious.
Sophy Jackson: Sillerton Jackson's unmarried sister. She is a friend of Janey and Mrs. They only mingle with people when they are trying to save society. They invite her to a very exclusive party in honor of the Duke of St. Austrey to show society that they support her.
They are said to be based on the Van Rensselaers , who were cousins of Edith Wharton. A cousin of the Van der Luydens, he is the guest of honor at a dinner party thrown by them. Both Ellen and Archer find him dull. Nastasia: Ellen's Italian maid. She invites Archer and the other guests to wait in Ellen's sitting room. Letterblair: The senior partner of Archer's law firm. He gives Archer the responsibility of talking Ellen out of her plans to divorce the Count.
Rushworth: The vain married woman with whom Archer had an affair before his engagement to May. Ned Winsett: A journalist. He and Archer are friends, despite their different social circles. He is one of the few people with whom Archer feels that he can have a meaningful conversation.
Ned Winsett challenges Archer to think of things outside society. Reggie Chivers: An important member of society. Archer spends a weekend at their country home on the Hudson River.
She now lives in Washington, where Ellen goes to take care of her. During a visit to New York, she tries to persuade Archer to convince Ellen that she should return to the Count. Beaufort's bank failure eventually ruins Mrs. Manson's fortune, and she moves back to Europe with Ellen. Agathon Carver: A friend and possible love interest of the Marchioness Manson.
Archer meets him at Ellen's house. Du Lac aunts: Archer's elderly aunts. They offer their country home to May and Archer for their honeymoon. Carfry: An English acquaintance of Janey and Mrs. She invites Archer and May to a dinner party while they are on their European wedding tour. Carfry's nephew. He fascinates Archer with his life story and intellect. Later, Archer learns that he was Count Olenski's secretary and the man who helped Ellen escape her marriage.
The count sends him to Boston to try to convince Ellen to return to Europe. Blenker family: The unfashionable, socially inferior family with whom the Marchioness and Ellen stay while in Newport.
They are the guests of honor at Mrs Emerson Sillerton's party, and seem to be a clever, kind bunch. Dallas Archer: May and Archer's eldest child. He takes his father on a trip to Europe. Through Dallas, Archer learns that May felt sorry for his empty heart after Ellen left.
She asks Dallas to visit Ellen while he and Archer are in Paris. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. The inhabitants of this hothouse of New York society is built on wealth, life is lavished, easy and comfortably cushioned, but this world may just as wel Myself and the Pulitzer prize have previously not always seen eye to eye, but Finally, I have read one worthy of giving top marks to.
The inhabitants of this hothouse of New York society is built on wealth, life is lavished, easy and comfortably cushioned, but this world may just as well have been covered in a blanket of cobwebs, as the lives are so sedate and uneventfully dull, despite their opulent surroundings, they appear colourless and motionless.
It is ultimately a tragic tale that Wharton weaves, and yes, as with a lot of classic fiction based around love, it's told with air of melancholy because this love is one that doesn't really get off the ground.
For Newland Archer, the leading male character, there is an imagining of an alternative existence to the one that convention has pressed upon him, he has built within himself a kind of sanctuary for his secret thoughts and longings.
Within these walls are his bride to be, May Welland and Countess Olenska, who would change his whole world. He is engaged to the young, beautiful, and equally impeccably bred May Welland, who is sweet sweet natured but naive.
She is beautiful, vivacious and intelligent, whose long period of living in more liberal European surroundings has made her innocent of the nonsensical, unspoken rules of the society she has reentered, and incapable of maintaining the shallow facade of her female relatives.
Newland feels a life of quiet misery lies ahead, and despairs over Olenska as they grow closer and closer, because he is forced, by his own realisation, to know how Ellen will be treated if she dares to divorce her husband, and advises against it, even though he is devoured by love for her.
Wharton mesmerizes with the sheer depth of emotion, pain, and frustration bearing down on Newland's shoulders, he really is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Through thwarted dreams, despairing disillusionment, unbearable regrets and the innocence that seals the mind against imagination and the heart against experience, Newland and Ellen share a secret love that enables each of them to be the best people they can be, fulfilled intellectually, emotionally and socially, and the fact they can never be together in harmony is just as unbearable for the reader as it is for the characters, and this is where Wharton excels with people you truly believe in.
For May, she is neither clever nor truthful, and only rarely shows a spirit that reveals a depth of feeling in the face of connvention and social expectations.
In telling the story of how Archer and Olenska, against all the strictures and taboos of their society, fall in love, Wharton seems to be siding with the individual in this universal tug-of-war. The finale, of many years later, moved me immensely, I thought of all that went before, a story that in terms of characterisation was searing on every page with the intensity of this doomed love affair. A stunning novel, impeccably told. And I think it's unfair to simply label this as old fashioned 'chick-lit' because it's about so much more than what appears on the surface.
Her tone is sardonic and to some extent cynical of the social world into which the reader enters, and she portrays this society, its conventions and traditions, through the unforgettable vivid characters whose behaviour and thinking were moulded in time. View all 37 comments. This book, which examines lives stifled by the social conventions of s Manhattan, is a classic masterpiece precisely because it is anything but conventional.
Ironically, it had me longing for the lovers to dip their toes in love-story convention by finding a hotel room, at least once , especially with lines like this one: Oh, Ellen Olenska! But no, the brilliant Edith Wharton doesn't allow it.
She stays the course, showing the f This book, which examines lives stifled by the social conventions of s Manhattan, is a classic masterpiece precisely because it is anything but conventional. She stays the course, showing the follies of Old New York society, the sometimes impossible and suffocating nature of marriage, and the changeability of social mores that seem so important in the moment but which are forgotten with the passing of a few years. She also shows how both noble and tragic it is to "do the right thing" rather than chasing happiness where it flies.
The poignancy of resignation and missed opportunities reminds me of similar themes addressed in The Remains of the Day. And though Wharton's Pulitzer Prize winning novel was written almost a hundred years ago, it still feels fresh and relevant.
This was my second reading of this book. The last time I read it was probably two decades ago, so it was almost like I was reading it for the first time. The only thing I can remember of my first reading was the feeling I had as I turned the last page. The overwhelming sense of I loved this, and must read it again. I had the same experience this time. I guess some things just don't change. View all 28 comments. Yes indeedy, what could be more jejune than another early 20th century novelist choosing as her subject the problematic relations between the sexes amongst the idle rich?
D H Lawrence and Henry James do the same, the first like a big dog gnawing at a bone and finding something it mistakes for God in the marrow, and the latter in his infinite cheeseparings putting the whole thing into the form of a three-dimensional chess game played by sardonic French subatomic particle physicists who you suspec Yes indeedy, what could be more jejune than another early 20th century novelist choosing as her subject the problematic relations between the sexes amongst the idle rich?
D H Lawrence and Henry James do the same, the first like a big dog gnawing at a bone and finding something it mistakes for God in the marrow, and the latter in his infinite cheeseparings putting the whole thing into the form of a three-dimensional chess game played by sardonic French subatomic particle physicists who you suspect own little dogs , the kind you want to step on and squish. And many other novelists great and small dance about on the same subject.
Well, Edith Wharton starts off like she is trying to get at something very interesting in The Age of Innocence. Here is the young man contemplating his future marriage: What could he and she really know of each other, since it was his duty, as a 'decent' fellow, to conceal his past from her, and hers, as a marriageable girl, to have no past to conceal?
He reviewed his friends' marriages - the supposedly happy ones - and saw none that answered, even remotely, to the passionate and tender comradeship which he pictured as his permanent relation with May Welland. He perceived that such a picture presupposed, on her part, the experience, the versatility, the freedom of judgement, which she had been carefully trained not to possess; and with a shiver of foreboding he saw his marriage becoming what most of the other marriages about him were: Much later the young man sadly muses thus: There was no use in trying to emancipate a wife who had not the dimmest notion that she was not free - apart from making you think "how very rude!
Edith Wharton's clear intelligence makes me think that ambiguity clouds these various musings only because she fears she's already been too bold. So this compelling theme gets lost when she subtly changes gear. Still, there are enough zingers to keep you reading and relishing - for instance - What if 'niceness' [in a wife: Hmm, what if indeed.
Or, concerning the rigours of class in New York, It seems stupid to have discovered America only to make it into a copy of another country - nice one, Edith. These idle rich, they're dull buggers you know - indeed Edith goes on and on about just how boring their lives are as she describes the dining, the travelling, the frittering, the spending, the ladylike sports the ladylike ladies did archery - no, not nude mud wrestling, what large sums would I not pay to read Edith Wharton describing such a scene , the families, the clans, their history, their posh houses, their posh horses - oh please spare us - half way through you really wish that the fabric of space and time should rend asunder and a scary bunch of Sendero Luminoso guerillas break into the great ballrooms and dining rooms and haul the whole pack of them off to the sweaty jungles of Colombia for some serious political indoctrination.
Plot spoiler: Instead, this book is a study of circumscription and circumspection, of people the hero, the heroine and the wife not getting what they want. And as such, when we are able to skirt round the pages of orotund description A winding drive led up between the iron stags and blue glass balls embedded in mounds of geraniums to a front door of highly varnished walnut under a striped verandah-roof; and behind it ran a narrow hall with a black and yellow star-patterned parquet floor upon which opened four small square rooms with heavy flock-papers under ceilings on which an Italian house-painter had lavished all the divinities of Olympus " - did you get all that Mr Set Designer?
But really mimsy with it. That Michelle Pfeiffer - cor, blimey. I wouldn't kick her out of bed. Still and all, the movie is a minute argument as to why you should read the book instead, because what's missing is Edith Wharton's mind, which is a great place to dally in. You get voice-overs in the movie which only serve to remind you how literary adaptations, however spiffily dressed-up and aren't they all? These movies are like aides memoires on gorgeous notepaper written with a ten thousand dollar pen.
The note says: View all 41 comments. Nobody comes to mind Recommended to Florence Lefty by: Pulitzer for fiction Heading for a hospital stay I decided to treat myself to a pleasant historical novel with a dash of romance.
BIG mistake, if this is romantic take me to the nunnery…. Okay, the ugliness of the story is offset by the beauty of the writing, and it is gorgeous, I'd read this author again - but still.
A man who makes a CLEAR choice vie Heading for a hospital stay I decided to treat myself to a pleasant historical novel with a dash of romance.
Goes without saying that in stark contrast to the wife she's intelligent and utterly fascinating. Pulitzer prize for fiction. How it took the Pulitzer is beyond me. Eels are slimy, ugly and refreshingly uncomplicated!
Newland Archer made me eat my words. View all 95 comments. Nov 22, Cheryl rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Lovers of life. The air of ideas is the only air worth breathing. Just when I think a classic unlikely to give me pause, it surprises me with relatable themes. After reading Wharton's short story, "The Muse's Tragedy" one of the supplemental reads I'll be teaching this Fall , I knew I had to visit one of her longer forms. So rewarding it was, to be wooed by elegant prose and positioning; a plot that moves in practiced laps; a story that could be yours, mine, theirs; a setting that will always be known for bot The air of ideas is the only air worth breathing.
So rewarding it was, to be wooed by elegant prose and positioning; a plot that moves in practiced laps; a story that could be yours, mine, theirs; a setting that will always be known for both its vibrance and austerity.
Wharton is a writer of words nestled in conscious rhythm, the director of a play that centers around societal distinctions like class and gender, yet still embodies universal themes of love, betrayal, and self-actualization. She had Henry James as a mentor, and yet I prefer her books to his although I see a resemblance to my favorite James book to-date: The American. His whole future seemed suddenly to be unrolled before him; and passing down its endless emptiness he saw the dwindling figure of a man to whom nothing was ever to happen.
Countess Olenska is not just a woman ostracized in s New York Society: The Countess represents fresh ideas, a new way of thinking, a society that doesn't place class and materialism before all else, a bohemian way of being.
The Countess is hope. I realize I"m taking an unorthodox stand, seeing as how the Countess also represents infidelity and betrayal, and the uproot of normalcy. Yet knowing Newland's choices when he meets Ellen, one knows that in the end, he'll make a decision forced upon him by his society. In the end, we see his gratitude for life, and the regrets from his choices, which once again, reminds us of the complications of life.
Wharton leaves us with an ending rife with speculative contemplations, and as readers, we become just like her characters. Something he knew he had missed: But he thought of it now as a thing so unattainable and improbable that to have repined would have been like despairing because one had not drawn the first prize in a lottery. Conventional New York was not ready for the Countess. The city had not yet formed itself into the diverse structure it now is, with a roadway tunnel that traverses the Hudson river, and a train station that connects you with New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
In fact, conventional New York City was also unprepared for The Harlem Renaissance, taking place only a few blocks away, in the same decade and the same world, yet separate and forgotten--like Ellen Olenska. But then you come; and you're so much more than I remembered, and what I want of you is so much more than an hour or two every now and then, with wastes of thirsty waiting between, that I can sit perfectly still beside you, like this, with that other vision in my mind, just quietly trusting it to come true.
View all 30 comments. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, making Wharton the first woman to win the prize. Newland Archer, gentleman lawyer and heir to one of New York City's best families, is happily anticipating a highly desirable marriage to the sheltered and beautiful May Welland. Yet he finds reason to doubt his choic Yet he finds reason to doubt his choice of bride after the appearance of Countess Ellen Olenska, May's exotic and beautiful year-old cousin.
Ellen has returned to New York from Europe after scandalously separating herself per rumor from a bad marriage to a Polish count. At first, Ellen's arrival and its potential taint on the reputation of his bride-to-be's family disturb Newland, but he becomes intrigued by the worldly Ellen, who flouts New York society's fastidious rules.
As Newland's admiration for the countess grows, so does his doubt about marrying May, a perfect product of Old New York society; his match with May no longer seems the ideal fate he had imagined. May be I ought to have read this before the four stories in Old New York: Four Novellas. The novel was written in and the novellas that pick up, somewhat on the side, some of the same characters view spoiler [ Mrs Manson Mingott, Sillerton Jackson, Mrs Struthers, Henry Van der Luyden hide spoiler ] were published four years later.
Although "Old New York", with its windows onto the four decades of the s; s; s and s, provides the introductory framework of the city of Wharton May be I ought to have read this before the four stories in Old New York: Although "Old New York", with its windows onto the four decades of the s; s; s and s, provides the introductory framework of the city of Wharton's obsessive? The Age of Innocence is set in the s, although the reader keeps the feeling that one is watching it through a telescope that zooms onto the past.
This suspicion is confirmed in the last chapter, when the novel is wrapped up at the turn of the century. Whatever the order, my reading attitude has been the same in both works. Firmly rooted on their sense of place and time, I kept marking in the map of my mind where he various characters stood, where they walked mostly up and down 5th , and lived brown-stoned houses and later in the somewhat surreptitious cream-colored buildings , for their particular siting forms certainly part of their portraiture.
In reality this is my second reading.
From my first experience I just remember that I had started reading just after sitting on a lecture on the act of looking in nineteenth century painting. The most striking scenes were opera watchers not watching the opera but watching at each other watching themselves.
I was then struck by the rounded structure of the novel for it is at the opera that the plot begins; and ends. It is loaded with references: It is all there.
This novel is foremost a sociological analysis and although it is, at its core, a sharp and censorious critique of the collective and ethical mores of a very particular society, it retains an air of nostalgia that for a twenty-first century reader brings a certain wistfulness when one realizes that many of the criticized social barriers have been pulled down but that the revealed boundless field can also seem somewhat disorienting. The reader cannot but ponder what would Wharton have thought of today's freedoms.
View all 22 comments. The title of this book is now one of my favorites of all time.
At first glance, it seems so dry, so suggestive of sweeping historical detail. It made me think of the fond memories of an age gone by — how quaint, how rosy-hued and idealistic it all was.
She lured me in with these little witty and darkly humorous asides. How silly! And then, just when I was getting comfortable, she twisted all those details into something stifling and malevolent and tenacious. Rather, they are given out systematically, calmly, and with absolute precision. This is how to write a love triangle.
My god! These three characters are so fully realized and exposed to the reader, yet within the world of these pages, they are neatly sectioned. They are sequestered inside of their own thoughts and feelings. They do not see each other at all. May is sheltered and grown in a tiny space, like some sort of delicacy.
She is preserved and wrapped, like a present, for Archer to unwrap — an offering to his male vanity. But is that all that she is?
Archer constantly assumes that she is child-like and vacant, with no hidden depths. But then, she has unexpected moments of shrewdness and lucidity. I think that she has more insight than he knows. What a punch in the gut that was. She has learned to succeed in her role. Unlike May, Ellen is given experience and perspective in childhood. Does she love Archer? She sees the reality of their relationship so much more clearly than he does, and I think that holds her back.
Archer is given center stage in this drama and so he is the most visible to us. In the beginning, he is the favored son, almost worshipped by his mother and sister. His every need is cared for; his whole life set out before him. But when Ellen arrives — a color photo in a sea of black and white — he suddenly begins to see his society as an outsider. Without even intending to, she jars him out of his set course. She makes him examine his own thoughts. Or at least, he tries to.
He's idealistic and romantic in his innocence, hoping for impossible things. Acting as a single, terrifying tribe, they collude to set trends, make rules, and excise bad elements. The ending is intense , and made me question my own much touted love of sad and ambiguous endings.
Quite a feat. I think that it can be interpreted in a couple of ways. Has he simply become complacent, or does he finally see things as they really were? Maybe the flower of life is more about the wanting, not the getting. His mind is so obviously opened and broadened by his experience with Ellen, even if they are never meant to be, and he now sees his idealistic visions of freedom from society realized at least somewhat in his children.
In the end, he isn't courageous enough to reach for more. Before writing this review I decided to find out a bit more about Edith Wharton. Turns out that she is actually a lot more interesting than some of her books. If you turn to the Wikipedia page not exactly hardcore research, I know but I'm not in a position to march off to the library and start wading through Wharton's presumably numerous biographies you'll be faced with a picture of a timid and pretty dour looking lady with two disagreeable looking Paris-Hilton porta-dogs plonked on her knee.
Don't let appearances fool you ladies and gentlemen, for Wharton was a regular social and creative dynamo; designer, socialite, writer, Knight Chevalier of the legion of honour for her work in France during the war there was no stopping this woman. So back to The Age of Innocence. What's it all about? Mostly about how being young, rich and desirable and mixing with the cream of society isn't all it is cracked up to be.
Well because high society is actually incredibly dull. In order to set themselves apart from the grubby minions who do the dishes, drive the coaches and actually work for a living, "society" set about creating a set of hideously constrictive rules and moral guidelines which sap the joy, happiness, fun, freedom of expression and general day to day life out of everyone involved.
It is incredibly ironic that everyone then strives to get accepted into this set when everyone who's already there is so damned miserable most of the time. Most of Wharton's principal characters are unhappy with their lot and lead a treading-on-eggshells existence because they're terrified out of their wits about any kind of scandal. Obviously scandal of sorts does ensue but everyone deals with it very nicely, calmly and diplomatically without any mud slinging or calling in Piers Morgan.
Clearly a lot has changed The best thing about this book for me was the names of the main characters. Perhaps the silliness of the names mirrors Whartons' own slightly mocking perspective on the society she herself inhabited.
If I had been brought up in high society I would have probably had to kick off my satin slippers and throw myself under the wheels of the first passing horse and carriage as soon as I entered adulthood. Who would want to live in such constrained times? Not I. View all 7 comments. I know that this novel has been played often by Takarazuka Ballet,the all-female Japanese musical theater troupe,so it must be more of a sugary,insipid typical love triangle. Yes,it is a love story,but it is much more than that.
The main plot is a tragic love story,but with the conflict of values and ethics in life and society. Through the culture clash between Europe and America here I mean New York ,and the rise and fall of the then I know that this novel has been played often by Takarazuka Ballet,the all-female Japanese musical theater troupe,so it must be more of a sugary,insipid typical love triangle.
Through the culture clash between Europe and America here I mean New York ,and the rise and fall of the then old families,the charcters are forced to adjust and readjust to their changing life,stick to the old values or must accept new ones.
How painful the process and how dreadful the fate must be! Most values depicted here are almost universal,and can apply in modern times,so thier decisions are all the more touching.
This great work is a modern bittersweet story at the mercy of ethics and morals we share today and different times. View all 14 comments. Oct 12, Jason Koivu rated it really liked it Shelves: Yeah, you could call this The Age of Innocence. On the other hand, a more suitable title might be Anna Karenina Revisited.
Here are a few similarities off the top of my head: Their sensibilities are remarkably similar. Did Edith Wharton steal everything but the title? I don't know, but if you told me she read and admired Tolstoy's book, I wouldn't be surprised. However, let's set the accusations aside. This is a damn fine novel. It's poignant. It's well-plotted. It's funny. The characters pop to life. New York society of the s is set as well as any Broadway stage.
Perhaps there's a little too much telling over showing, but I'm not complaining. Indeed it's difficult to fault Wharton on any point. This is a solid novel. Beyond the novel, it's difficult to fault Wharton even if she did pilfer the plot.
Yes, she came from a very wealthy family and much of her time was spent penning novels from the comfort of her luxuriant bed, dropping completed pages upon the floor to be collected and collated by a servant. But looking deeper you discover all the good she did during the Great War.
And when you learn how she put herself in danger by reporting from the front, well, you can't help but admire the woman. She's got true grit, even if it is gilded grit. Here is my video review of Age of Innocence: View all 11 comments. The Age of Innocence is basically a love triangle. Newland Archer is a wealthy lawyer of upper-class New York society, who is engaged to be married to May, a member of the same society. Ruled by well laid conventions, Newland believes him to be happy and content and eagerly awaits his impending marriage.
The meet of Ellen, May's cousin, and his closer association with her that follows make him see the dull and empty life that he is forced to live which is tightly controlled by convention. Newlan The Age of Innocence is basically a love triangle. Newland eventually falls in love with Ellen, but convention and duty requires that he should surrender his love and freedom.
I didn't take to the character of Newland Archer initially. His cowardice and inaction really bothered me. Even when May offers him that he may break the engagement if there is "another woman" whom he desires to marry, he does not grab the opportunity. Although he constantly lamented over his lost opportunity to love and live freely, it is his own inaction that brought him misery; and not only to him but to May and Ellen.
But later, on reflecting on his character, I realized that I cannot judge his character by modern convictions. Given the time period in which the character is set, there was nothing surprising in the cause of action which Newland took. The conventions by which they lived were a second religion to them from which it was almost impossible to deviate.
May was the representation of family, duty and convention. She is described as pretty, socially perfect but one who lacks imagination and room for growth.
But I felt that she was severely misunderstood, especially by Newland. While she puts outwardly a face socially acceptable for a young woman of that time, underneath lives a strong, intelligent and an artful woman who goes to greater lengths to secure what is hers. My sympathy was with Ellen who was an innocent victim of fate and convention.
She was always portrayed in soft, kind and truthful light with a mind of her own; and I believe, she was Ms. Wharton's heroine. The story, through the main characters of Newland, May and Ellen, and supported by quite a number of interesting supporting characters, is a true portrayal of the lives and way of living of New York upper-class society. Being herself part of that society, Ms. Wharton draws a truthful account of the old upper-class New York society coupled with subtle humour on their rigid conventional way of living.
The story concludes with the final chapter being set thirty years later, which shows how the people have slowly managed to unchain themselves from the strict bonds of convention. This chapter was a breath of fresh air to the tedious conventional living which was described throughout the story. The writing is beautifully detailed and the psychological portrayal of the characters is cleverly done that it was easy to connect with the story and characters from the very beginning.
Her writing style is easy going yet graceful which made the read both quick and interesting. This is my second read of Wharton and I really enjoyed the read. To me, The Age of Innocence is a true story of an "age of innocence" where people were kept within strict social rules where imaginative and passionate living is not heard of, nor sanctioned. This book is presented in two books and 34 chapters.
Through its pages are several characters and various scenarios are described. We are in the nineteenth century, where the three important points of world society is the city of Paris, London and New York.
The plot unfolds in the U. Throughout history, we realized that the lunches, dinners and celebrations were act This book is presented in two books and 34 chapters. Throughout history, we realized that the lunches, dinners and celebrations were acts relevant at the time, because there was recognized its position in the society. Among the conviviums of the time were the liqueurs and among them, Port wine, symbol of the North of Portugal.
Cabarets, bars, cafes, restaurants, clubs were growing places, but there was distinction depending on the people who frequented them.