By Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton’s darkish view of society, the somber economics of marriage, and the powerlessness of the unwedded girl within the 1870s emerge dramatically within the tragic novel The apartment of Mirth. confronted with an array of rich suitors, manhattan socialite Lily Bart falls in love with attorney Lawrence Selden, whose loss of funds spoils their percentages for happiness jointly. doubtful enterprise bargains and accusations of liaisons with a married guy scale down Lily’s social prestige, and as she makes one undesirable selection after one other, she learns how venal and brutally unforgiving the higher crust of latest York may be.

One of America’s best novels of manners, The residence of Mirth is a superbly written and finally tragic account of the human potential for cruelty.

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A woman conceals from a man all the passion that she feels for him, while he, on his side, simulates a passion for her which he does not feel. 舡 (p. 148) Few amorous intrigues can be kept secret. Indeed, all the people in her circle know the intimate details of Lily舗s life, and all misinterpret her behavior. Certain women have sought to hide their conduct under a veil of modesty ... 舡 Lily remains a virgin, but her lack of caution leads men to misjudge her character. The countless ways by which women arouse strong passions in men give rise to an aversion and antipathy in their own sex.

B. Lewis mistakenly writes that Wharton never met Maugham. 2. Jeffrey Meyers, Scott Fitzgerald: A Biography (New York: HarperCollins,1994), pp. 156-157. 3. Edith Wharton, Letters, edited by R. W. B. Lewis and Nancy Lewis (New York: Scribner舖s, 1988), p. 5. 4. Edith Wharton, A Backward Glance (1934. Reprint: New York: Scribner舗s, 1964), p. 73. 5. Quoted in Louis Auchincloss, Edith Wharton: A Woman in Her Time (New York: Viking Press, 1971), p. 142. 6. Kenneth Clark, Another Part of the Wood: A Self-Portrait (1974.

1898 Henry James舗s The Turn of the Screw is published. 1901 The Whartons begin to build The Mount, their summer home near Lenox, Massachusetts. Edith舗s mother dies in Paris. 1905 The House of Mirth is published. The novel quickly becomes one of the best-selling books of the year; its popularity solidifies Wharton舗s reputation as a major novelist. Wharton and Henry James develop a close friendship. George Bernard Shaw舗s play Major Barbara is performed in London. 1908 Wharton publishes A Motor-Flight through France, in which she recounts her travels with Edward and Henry James.

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