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Edith Wharton’s acclaimed novel of love, duty, and half-known truths in Gilded Age New York society, with a foreword by bestselling author Elif Batuman
Dutiful Newland Archer, an eligible young man from New York high society, is about to announce his engagement to May Welland, a suitable match from a good family, when May’s cousin, the beautiful and exotic Countess Ellen Olenska, is introduced into their circle. The Countess brings with her an aura of European sophistication and a hint of perceived scandal, having left her husband and claimed her independence. Her worldliness, disregard for society’s rules, and air of unapproachability attract the sensitive Newland, despite his enthusiasm about a marriage to May and the societal advantages it would bring. Almost against their will, Newland and Ellen develop a passionate bond, and a classic love triangle takes shape as the three young people find themselves drawn into a poignant and bitter conflict between love and duty. Written in 1920, Edith Wharton’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a time and place long gone by—1870s New York City—beautifully captures the complexities of passion, independence, and fulfillment, and how painfully hard it can be for individuals to truly see one another and their place in the world.
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About the Author
Edith Wharton (1862-1937) was born Edith Newbold Jones. A member of a distinguished New York family, she was educated privately in America and abroad. During her life, she published more than forty volumes: novels, stories, verse, essays, travel books, and memoirs.
Elif Batuman is the author of The Idiot, a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in fiction, and The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism. She has been a staff writer at the New Yorker since 2010.
Sarah Blackwood is an associate professor of English at Pace University. Her criticism has appeared in the New Yorker, the New Republic, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere.
"Is it--in this world--vulgar to ask for more? To entreat a little wildness, a dark place or two in the soul?"--Katherine Mansfield
"There is no woman in American literature as fascinating as the doomed Madame Olenska. . . . Traditionally, Henry James has always been placed slightly higher up the slope of Parnassus than Edith Wharton. But now that the prejudice against the female writer is on the wane, they look to be exactly what they are: giants, equals, the tutelary and benign gods of our American literature."--Gore Vidal
"Will writers ever recover that peculiar blend of security and alertness which characterizes Mrs. Wharton and her tradition?"--E. M. Forster