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review â The Age of Innocence 104 Winner of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize The Age of Innocence is Edith Wharton’s masterful portrait of desire and betrayal during the sumptuous Golden Age of Old New York a time when society people “dr. Part of why I love The Age of Innocence so much is for the very reason my students hate it the subtlety of action in a society constrained by its own ridiculous rules and s In Old New York conformity is key and the upper crust go about a life of ritual that has no substance or meaning Both men and women are victims in this world as both are denied economic intellectual and creative outlets All the world s a stage in Wharton s New York and everyone wears a mask of society s creation Such is the norm until Newland ArcherSymbolically Newland represents an America on the cusp of modernization the awkward period of transition between the Victorian era and World War I At first a devout member of New York aristocracy Newland is awakened as one from a trance with the arrival of Countess Ellen Olenska Ellen decides to separate from her abusive husband Count Olenski and is rud to have escaped the Count by having an affair with his secretary a scandalous circumstance that brings her back home to her native New York Vibrant intellectual and free spirited when compared with the dowdy and restrained women he s known Ellen s predicament is a revelation to Newland As he himself has just ended an affair with a married woman and knows the ease with which society forgave his indiscretion when contrasted with Ellen Newland begins to acknowledge the ineuality amongst the sexes However there s a serious roadblock to Newland ever being with the captivating Ellen Ellen is the cousin of May Welland Newland s fiancee Wharton writes with cutting wit about the hypocritical and ludicrous customs of blue blood society and cunningly plots events to work against Newland the archer whose target is a new land in which he and Ellen can be together The pity is that ultimately May proves to be the cunning huntress who cleverly stalks and traps her uarry in the labyrinth of societyCross posted at This Insignificant Cinder

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review â The Age of Innocence 104 Eaded scandal than disease”This is Newland Archer’s world as he prepares to marry the beautiful but conventional May Welland But when the mysterious Countess Ellen Olenska returns to New York af. The blurb on GR gives a good summary so I will start with that as the first paragraphWinner of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize The Age of Innocence is Edith Wharton s masterful portrait of desire and betrayal during the sumptuous Golden Age of Old New York a time when society people dreaded scandal than disease This is Newland Archer s world as he prepares to marry the beautiful but conventional May Welland But when the mysterious Countess Ellen Olenska returns to New York after a disastrous marriage Archer falls deeply in love with her Torn between duty and passion Archer struggles to make a decision that will either courageously define his life or mercilessly destroy itElite New York society says of the Countess separated from her husband who remains in Europe And now it s too late her life is finished For a time she considers going back to her husband She shocks people by wearing the wrong things hanging out with the wrong people or by engaging men in frank conversation In elite New York society at that time a woman could not walk away from conversation with a man to engage in conversation with another man she had to wait for him to come to her The Countess shocks people by referring occasionally to my husband when everyone expects her never to mention him But she is somewhat protected by her family connections she is Newland s wife s cousin Even though people will say in conversation I don t want to hear about anything unpleasant in her history all of them already know all the dirt Those in New York society at the time thought themselves superior to their counterparts in Europe They think know European customs because they all honeymoon and vacation there for months at a time Their goal is to keep out the new people They spend fortunes on dresses from Paris but wait a year to wear them because it is not sheik to wear the latest fashions A woman is dishonored by her husband s shady financial dealings While they claim to be well read and to love art and music they will not hang out with those types of people or invite them to their parties In conversation people blush and pale constantly Newland thinks of his wife May as a Stepford wife Seeing her brow glistening in the light he said to himself with a secret dismay that he would always know the thoughts behind it that never in all the years to come would she surprise him by an unexpected mood by a new idea a weakness a cruelty or an emotion May is That terrifying product of the social system he belonged to and believed in the young girl who knew nothing and expected everything Newland thinks of himself as enlightened Among men he says Women should be free as free as we are knowing full well that Nice women however wronged would never claim the kind of freedom he meant and generous minded men like himself were therefore in the heat of the argument the chivalrously ready to concede it to them But of May he thinks There was no use trying to emancipate a wife who had not the dimmest notion that she was not free After Newland and the Countess fall in love they enter into a kind of limbo Her choice would be stay near him as long as he did not ask her to come nearer and it depended on himself to keep her just there safe but secluded I m reminded of another novel I read recently Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garc a M ruez Can you really pine away with love for someone your entire lifeThere is good writing Just a couple of examplesSaid of an ancient matron She always indeed struck Newland Archer as having been rather gruesomely preserved in the airless atmosphere of a perfectly irreproachable existence as bodies caught in glaciers keep for years a rosy life in death The opera lets out Americans want to get away from amusement even uickly than they want to get to it There s a lot of local color of New York s Fifth Avenue district and of Newport A great read and I will add it to my favorites Thanks to Tina Tom Jaidee Joshie Dan and Heather who encouraged me to read of Edith Wharton this book in particular Top photo of a New York Fifth Avenue mansion from boweryboyshistorycomInterior of a modern Fifth Avenue mansion from thenypostfileswordpresscom2013A mansion in Newport RI Chateau Sur Mer from assetssimpleviewinccomThe author from edithwhartonorg

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review â The Age of Innocence 104 Ter a disastrous marriage Archer falls deeply in love with her Torn between duty and passion Archer struggles to make a decision that will either courageously define his life or mercilessly destroy. Each time you happen to me all over again Imagine that person you love most in this world right within your grasp but somehow out of reach An invisible thin wall keeping you apart Apart but not away from each other Together yet not with each other This is the worst form of torture a torture of invisible chains and soundless screams Constantly seeing each other constantly being reminded of what cannot be Constantly falling in love yet constantly falling apart The urge the love the longing constantly growing engulfing you until you cannot bear to live Every part of your body numb and unaware of the realities around you Because for you only the pain you feel is real The only truth you know is that everything is a lie Edith Wharton paints a very delicate picture that resonates elegiac waves and enraptures its readers to the very bone One can t help but succumb to this level of desire of emotion and empathize because of the atmosphere that Wharton has created Her prose is crisp straight and true One might say that her prose is a reflection of her New York socialite self Wharton was born with uite a few gazillion silver spoons stuck somewhere on her buttocks Aside from that with such a dazzling foray of words she evoked such emotion in me that I was afraid I might like her Facebook page at some point So with that in mind I vowed to refrain from using Facebook until I ve finished reading this book Well it worked fine for me On another note I was really impressed with her depiction of the 1870s New York Based on a little research I did her canvas of the place was just spot on splendid It was the spirit of it the spirit of the exuisite romantic pain The idea that the mere touching of a woman s hand would suffice The idea that seeing her across the room would keep him alive for another year That sort of a relationship that uniue communication between two people savagely drawn to the other like moth to a flame is of a different level than all the other types of communication This communication between them is that of the deepest kind A communication that needs not one of the five senses This communication of feeling of intense knowing of mutual understanding this unity of the mind this shared consciousness is the effect of a love that knows no bounds strengthened to an insane proportion by the fact that it was never meant to be The real loneliness is living among all these kind people who only ask one to pretend What s the use You gave me my glimpse of a real life and at the same moment you asked me to go on with a sham oneBut what really struck me the most was that irony that these two people enlightened to be different from the pretend people who revile them and mockingly laugh at their trained innocence and hapless practices were to be subjected to a pretend relationship as well In reality they all lived in a kind of hieroglyphic world where the real thing was never said or done or even thought but only represented by a set of arbitrary signs They that were above that Innocence were cruelly placed upon a circumstance in which they have to feign Innocence as well as the only way to sustain their love for each other I can t love you unless I give you up This has led me to believe that such innocence can only be a result of circumstances beyond their powers That altogether this Innocence is merely through the progression of unstoppable forces not necessarily known to the person it affects Such is also the case with the New York Society These people did not choose to succumb to this veiled innocence it was mercilessly hurled at them They were raised in these circumstances in a society where conformity is the norm and to uestion this conformity would be self abdication Thus these people will die by this code This Age of Innocence reflects a view in which Newland Archer is also an innocent victim He thinks his wife too much of an innocent being that he is surprised in the end and utterly moved when he finds out that she is not so innocent at all And the lifting of this veil seemed a wake up call to him at the very end when he was about to meet the Countess Olenska with his son that he realizes that he has lost this innocence She had become the symbol of everything that could have been all his hopes and dreams She was the unreachable star In the end he was afraid that all that sustained his love was that invisible shackle that sense of longing that feigned innocence And that the innocence was all that kept him to Ellen and without it he cannot bear to face her And you ll sit beside me and we ll look not at visions but at realitiesI don t know what you mean by realities The only reality to me is thisThe dream has become a reality and the reality a dream It s real to me here than if I went up he suddenly heard himself say and the fear lest that last shadow of reality should lose its edge kept him rooted to his seat as the minutes succeeded each other

  • Paperback
  • 293
  • The Age of Innocence
  • Edith Wharton
  • English
  • 08 January 2019
  • 9781593081430