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Library of America Edith Wharton Edition

Edith Wharton
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Library of America Edith Wharton Edition : Titles in Order

Book 5
Acclaimed biographer Hermione Lee presents four “remarkable and surprising” books that collectively capture World War I and the Jazz Age through the eyes of one of our greatest novelists.

Edith Wharton achieved the height of her critical and popular success in the 1920s, following The Age of Innocence, winner of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize, with four works that, though less well-known today, reveal the same mastery of dramatic irony and penetrating social satire that place her, with Henry James and Willa Cather, among the foremost writers of her era. The Library of America now brings these brilliant works together for the first time in the fifth volume of its ongoing edition of Wharton’s works. Here are The Glimpses of the Moon (1922), a romance set amid the crosscurrents of upper-class social maneuvering that is considered by some scholars to have been a literary inspiration for The Great Gatsby; A Son at the Front (1923), set in Paris in the First World War, a searing character study of an American painter grappling with his son’s decision to answer the call of duty in the French army; Twilight Sleep (1927), a satire of the Jazz Age and the New York society ladies who turn to drugs, occultism, and other distractions to escape the pain and emptiness of their lives; and The Children (1928), an unlikely love story that editor Hermione Lee has called “a daring and profoundly sad book” and “the most remarkable and surprising of the novels that came after The Age of Innocence.” Also included is a chronology of Wharton’s life, newly expanded from Hermione Lee’s masterful biography of Wharton, as well as helpful explanatory notes.LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Book 4
Library of America presents the second volume in a landmark two-volume collector’s edition of the incomparable stories of an American master.

Born into an upper-class New York family, Edith Wharton broke with convention and became a professional writer, earning an enduring place as the grande dame of American letters. This Library of America collection (along with its companion volume, Collected Stories: 1891–1910) presents the finest of Wharton’s achievement in short fiction, drawn from the more than eighty stories she published over the course of her career. 

In this volume, Wharton’s humor is abundantly evident in sly and subtle stories like “Xingu” (in which a ladies’ reading group is led to express its enthusiasm for an occult philosophy) and “Charm Incorporated” (about a mild-mannered Wall Street executive overwhelmed by his émigré wife’s needy but wonderful relatives). As always, Wharton’s is a provocative voice on the subject of sexuality and women’s roles. In “The Day of the Funeral,” “Joy in the House,” and “Atrophy,” love and desire confront the demands of polite society; in “Roman Fever,” a formal tour de force, two middle-aged women on holiday with their modern daughters revisit the fierce competitiveness of their own youth.

Of particular interest are Wharton’s stories of the uncanny and the supernatural, like the grisly “A Bottle of Perrier,” set in the North African desert, and the chilling “All Souls’,” written just before her death. An unacknowledged master of American horror fiction, Wharton’s lucid prose makes all the more powerful her exploration of the irrational forces underlying ordinary life.

Also included in this edition are a chronology of Wharton’s life, explanatory notes, and an essay on the texts.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Book 3
Library of America presents the first volume in a landmark two-volume collector’s edition of the incomparable stories of an American master.

Born into an upper-class New York family, Edith Wharton broke with convention and became a professional writer, earning an enduring place as the grande dame of American letters. This Library of America collection (along with its companion volume, Collected Stories: 1911–1937) presents the finest of Wharton’s achievement in short fiction, drawn from the more than eighty stories she published over the course of her career.

Opening with her first published story—the charming “Mrs. Manstey’s View,” about a disruption in the life of an elderly apartment-dweller—this first of two volumes presents a writer, already at the height of her powers, beginning to explore the concerns of a lifetime. In “Souls Belated,” two lovers attempt to escape the consequences of their adultery—a subject to which Wharton returns throughout her career. In “The Mission of Jane” (about a remarkable adopted child) and “The Pelican” (about an itinerant lecturer), she discovers her gift for social and cultural satire. Perhaps the finest of her ghost stories, “The Eyes,” with its Jamesian sense of evil, is also included, along with two novella-length works, “The Touchstone” and “Sanctuary,” revealing the dazzling range of Wharton’s fictive imagination.

Also included in this edition are a chronology of Wharton’s life, explanatory notes, and an essay on the texts.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Book 2
Collected in this Library of America volume are no fewer than six of the works of Edith Wharton: novels, novellas, and her renowned autobiography, A Backward Glance. Together they represent nearly a quarter century in the productive life of one of the most accomplished and admired of American writers.

Madame de Treymes (1907) is set in fashionable Paris society, where a once free-spirited American woman is trying to extricate herself, with the help of a fellow countryman, from her marriage to an aristocratic Frenchman. 

Such a village is the scene of Ethan Frome (1911), a tale of marital entrapment even more relentless. Ethan’s unhappy marriage and his desperate love for his wife’s cousin Mattie drive him to an act of shattering violence. The magnificent coda is a classic of American realistic fiction.

Set in the same region of the Berkshires, Wharton called Summer (1917) “the Hot Ethan.” It is the story of a young woman’s initiation into the intricate sexual and social mores of a small town—and her revolt against them. 

Observations of the American scene continue in the four novellas that make up Old New York (1924). They take us from the 1840s of “False Dawn,” where a young man is ostracized for his avant garde taste in art, to the 1870s of “New Year’s Day,” where a domestic scandal unfolds. 

The poignancies of parenthood are also the theme of The Mother’s Recompense (1925). Kate Clephane, a divorced woman who has been living in Europe, returns to New York to find her former lover engaged to her daughter—and to face the emotional tangles of this unusual triangle. 

The fullest portraits of New York are saved for A Backward Glance (1934), one of the most compelling of American autobiographies. Another perspective is offered in “Life and I,” an autobiographical fragment that shows a younger Wharton writing with great frankness about her early life. It is published here for the first time.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Book 1
The four novels in this Library of America volume show Wharton at the height of her powers as a social observer and critic, examining American and European lives with a vision rich in detail, satire, and tragedy. In all of them her strong and autobiographical impulse is disciplined by her writer’s craft and her unfailing regard for her audience.

The House of Mirth (1905), Wharton’s tenth book and her first novel of contemporary life, was an immediate runaway bestseller, with 140,000 copies in print within three months of publication. The story of young Lily Bart and her tragic sojourn among the upper class of turn-of-the-century New York, it touches on the insidious effects of social convention and upon the sexual and financial aggression to which women of independent spirit were exposed.

The Reef (1912) is the story of two couples whose marriage plans are upset by the revelation of a past affair between George Darrow (a mature bachelor) and Sophy Vener, who happens to be the fiancée of his future wife’s stepson. Henry James called the novel “a triumph of method,” and it shares the rich nuance of his own The Golden Bowl.

The Custom of the Country (1913) is the amatory saga of Undine Spragg of Apex City—beautiful, spoiled, and ambitious—whose charms conquer New York and European society. Vulgar and voracious, she presides over a series of men, representing the old and new aristocracies of both continents, in a comedy drawn unmistakably from life.

The Age of Innocence (1920) is set in the New York of Wharton’s youth, when the rules and taboos of her social “tribe” held as-yet unchallenged sway. A quasi-anthropological study of a remembered culture and its curious conventions, it tells the story of the Countess Olenska (formerly Ellen Mingott), refugee from a disastrous European marriage, and Newland Archer, heir to a tradition of respectability and family honor, as they struggle uneasily against their sexual attraction.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.

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