The Age of Innocence
In this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Edith Wharton has written the story of an affable conformist whose marriage of convenience cannot extinguish his passion for another woman… and whose moral limitations make both women seem unreal to him. Handsome, affluent, with great promise as a lawyer, Newland Archer’s interest in his cold, beautiful, and conventional wife gradually flags. His attraction to Countess Ellen Olenska–bizarre and challenging, separated from her husband–becomes the single threat to his secure position in high society, and, at the same time, leads him to question the values of that society.
Said to be “the finest of her novels … painted with a richness of colour and detail that delights the imagination…”
The Age of Innocence is a highly sophisticated inquiry into the totems and taboos of nineteenth-century New York elite circles and their crippling effect on natural inclinations. Of the author, whose lifelong preoccupation lay with this facet of society, Edmund Wilson wrote: “Her tragic heroines and heroes are … passionate or imaginative spirits, hungry for emotional and intellectial experience, who find themselves locked into small closed system, and either destroy themselves by beating their heads against their prison or suffer a living death in resigning themselves to it. Out of these themes she got a sharp pathos all her own.”