The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

The Age of Innocence

byEdith Wharton

Kobo ebook | June 27, 2006

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Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time

Newland Archer saw little to envy in the marriages of his friends, yet he prided himself that in May Welland he had found the companion of his needs--tender and impressionable, with equal purity of mind and manners. The engagement was announced discreetly, but all of New York society was soon privy to this most perfect match, a union of families and circumstances cemented by affection.
        Enter Countess Olenska, a woman of quick wit sharpened by experience, not afraid to flout convention and determined to find freedom in divorce. Against his judgment, Newland is drawn to the socially ostracized Ellen Olenska, who opens his eyes and has the power to make him feel. He knows that in sweet-tempered May, he can expect stability and the steadying comfort of duty. But what new worlds could he discover with Ellen? Written with elegance and wry precision, Edith Wharton's Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece is a tragic love story and a powerful homily about the perils of a perfect marriage.

Commentary by William Lyon Phelps and E. M. Forster

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Edith Wharton was a woman of extreme contrasts; brought up to be a leisured aristocrat, she was also dedicated to her career as a writer. She wrote novels of manners about the old New York society from which she came, but her attitude was consistently critical. Her irony and her satiric touches, as well as her insight into human charac...
Title:The Age of InnocenceFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:June 27, 2006Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0553902695

ISBN - 13:9780553902693

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book but different cover! I really like the story itself but the cover is not the same as in the picture. Instead, it is a photograph of a woman in a white dress holding a rose. I like would have liked to have the cover from the picture instead.
Date published: 2013-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Purity, Patience and Perseverance Yesterday I read the last page, I believe, page 235, of Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence. It stirred up more emotions than a racial riot on a Black Sunday. There have been numerous tales of unrequited love, but it wasn’t the theme that was to be blamed for the upheaval in my head, rather it was the string of words, so neatly and confidently arranged, like perfect garlands with just the right amount of rosiness and bloom. I simply could not put it down. Its fresh and innocent take on unrequited love, on the backdrop of 1870’s New York, amongst the upper class rich of high society, was as mesmerizing as a golden sunset, on a secluded beach, discovery of which thrills your senses, until it finally vanishes into the ocean, at the very last word. It is odd I thought, for someone like me, who knows nothing of 1870’s New York, of a society so remote from my own life, to feel the emotions. Is this what they call a timeless piece? If so, it is also geography-less. Racial-less. Nationality-less. The kind of novel that transcends every differentiating factor that one could conjure up, even transpiring earthly shades of grey, towards a purity, that is truly innocence. The novel itself, centres on Newland Archer, a young man so neatly carved by custom and tradition, with the slight sharp imperfections of desire and emotion. He meets the Countess Olenska, his fiancée’s cousin. The emergence of Ellen Olenska does not ignite in him the fires of desire, rather, it fans the little flame that flickers in his heart. Newland is the familiar protagonist, one that struggles between collectivism and individualism. One that sways between the two powerful magnets of society, family, tradition and its opposite, the desire of the self. It becomes apparent, that Ellen Olenska if nothing, is his female equivalent, but rather delicately dealt with by the hand of tradition. She enters New York high society scandalously, separated from a cruel foreign husband, but its not her marital status that stirs the interest and disgust of New York’s upper class, it is more of her flaunting the breaking of norm. Ellen Olenska is different, because she has a mind of her own. This act of being “free” attracts the heart of Newland. But when it comes to family, traditional emotions eventually outrun the selfish. She succumbs to it in the end and Newland marries his fiancée, the perfect female ideal of New York high society, May Welland, out of obligation. Nevertheless, his inner flame continues to flicker and brighten his soul, and at times of human weakness, burning him cruelly... and what becomes then? Do the lovers reunite?
Date published: 2006-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Age of Innocence: Mortality and Immortality Edith Wharton’s books have been considered, by some, merely popular fiction of her time. But should we equate popularity with the value of the fiction? We must not assume that if her books are popular, they are also primitive. Compared to the works of her contemporary and friend, Henry James, whose books may seem complex and sometimes bewildering; Wharton’s The Age of Innocence appears to be a simplistic, gossipy commentary of New York society during the last decade of the 19th century. Instead, it is one man’s struggle with the questions of mortality and immortality. Wharton’s characters, settings and the minutiae of social rituals, manners, speech habits and dress help her expose the mortal and immortal. But her adroit contrasts and comparisons with mythology elevate her fiction to the heights of sophistication.
Date published: 2001-02-15