Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence : New Centenary Essays
With The Age of Innocence, published in 1920, Edith Wharton became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize. In the years since, it has appeared on almost every “Best American Novels” list, has been adapted to film, television, and theatre multiple times, has inspired contemporary rewritings, and is regularly cited as a favorite text by present-day authors including Beth Nguyen, whose essay on reading The Age of Innocence as the teenage daughter of refugees appears in this volume. To mark 100 years since the book's first publication, Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence: New Centenary Essays brings together leading scholars to explore cutting-edge critical approaches to Wharton's most popular novel. Along the way this book revisits the novel through a wide range of contemporary critical perspectives-from theories of mind and affect to the digital humanities and media studies. The book also includes an introduction by editor Arielle Zibrak that connects the 1920 novel to the sociocultural climate of 2020.
"Classic literary works maintain their status by speaking to subsequent generations anew. Wharton’s The Age of Innocence (1920) has been highly regarded since it was first published, appreciated by both scholars and general readers throughout the past century and into the 21st. Few readers of 20th-century novels can resist the sumptuous New York of 1870 that Wharton brings to life or tire of the love triangle between the main characters: Newland Archer, May Welland, and Ellen Olenska. The essays Zibrak brings together offer varied perspectives on this classic tale, some pointing toward criticism to come. Some contributors approach the book in traditional ways. For example, Carol Singley provides a cogent reading of the main characters in the context of American individualism, and Hildegard Hoeller compares the novel to Wharton’s bolder collection of novellas, Old New York (1924). Other essayists employ verb-mapping data and analyze Wharton’s ‘free indirect discourse.’ A consideration of an early film adaptation of Wharton's famous novel and a personal essay round out the collection. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty." - CHOICE
“Individualism, ambivalence, scandal, and belonging--all of these are associated with Wharton's The Age of Innocence, in this stunning new collection of essays. Zibrak orchestrates a whole new set of innovative readings of the novel--and the 1934 film based on it. These essays treat its modernist affect and narrative style, along with its status as an international novel with France as its focus. In moving from a new digital study of Wharton's verbs to the historical status of psychology before 1920, to the novel's relation to Wharton's "Old New York" novellas and her various plots for Age, this collection soars. It heralds a new energy that will advance Wharton Studies anew.” —Dale M. Bauer, Professor of English, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
“Bringing significant insights to the novel's characterization, narration, modernist and international contexts, gender politics, and 1934 film adaptation, this collection employs digital humanities, transhistorical, and interdisciplinary methodologies in exciting new ways and reintroduces us to the beauty and complexity of The Age of Innocence. These stimulating essays remind us of the enduring importance of Wharton's Pulitzer Prize-winning work in a new age and inspire further avenues of scholarship.” —Gary Totten, Professor and Chair of English, University of Nevada, Las Vegas