Described by literary critic Robert Morss Lovett as "a novelist of civilization, absorbed in the somewhat mechanical operations of civilization, absorbed in the somewhat mechanical operations of culture, preoccupied with the upper ('and inner') class," Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edith Wharton (1862-1937) also wrote superbly crafted works of short fiction. The seven stor...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published October 21st 1994 by Dover Publications
(first published 1911)
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All of the stories in this book were beautifully written. But Wharton kept recycling the same sad themes of corrupted high society, divorce, and scandal. Also, her avant-garde feminism seemed rather confused and contradictory. The only story I actually enjoyed from this selection was Xingu. And even that left a bitter aftertaste. Maybe I would appreciate Edith Wharton more if I read one of her novels where her themes and characterization are fully fleshed out.
I found a degree of variability in quality among these stories. While they all are well-written, some deal with the themes of social ostracism, feminism and relationships between the sexes better and more interestingly than others. My favorites are "The Pelican" and "Xingu".
I did not expect these stories to be my cup of tea, but was pleasantly surprised. Roman Fever was my favorite. The twist at the end was elegant. The other three stories poked fun at the upper-class twits of her day. They were reminiscent of stories by Saki, but not as concise.
Edith Newbold Jones was born into such wealth and privilege that her family inspired the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." The youngest of three children, Edith spent her early years touring Europe with her parents and, upon the family's return to the United States, enjoyed a privileged childhood in New York and Newport, Rhode Island. Edith's creativity and talent soon became obvious: By the a...moreMore about Edith Wharton...