In The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton depicts the glittering salons of Gilded Age New York with precision and wit, even as she movingly portrays the obstacles that impeded women's choices at the turn of the century.
The beautiful, much-desired Lily Bart has been raised to be one of the perfect wives of the wealthy upper class, but her spark of character and independent drive prevents her from becoming one of the many women who will succeed in those circles. Though her desire for a comfortable life means that she cannot marry for love without money, her resistance to the rules of the social elite endangers her many marriage proposals. As Lily spirals down into debt and dishonor, her story takes on the resonance of classic tragedy. One of Wharton's most bracing and nuanced portraits of the life of women in a hostile, highly ordered world, The House of Mirth exposes the truths about American high society that its denizens most wished to deny. With an introduction by Pamela Knights.
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
About the Author
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.
Knights-Lecturer in English and American Literature at Durham University
“A tragedy of our modern life, in which the relentlessness of what men used to call Fate and esteem…. is as vividly set forth as ever it was by Aeschylus or Shakespeare.”
—The New York Times
“Uniquely authentic among American novels of manners.”
“Brilliant….[Lily Bart] is a grand tragic heroine, fit to take center stage with Manon or Emma Bovary, Gwendolen Harleth or Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Anna Karenina or Isabel Archer.”