Sunday, January 15, 2006

First reactions: The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton

I just finished Wharton's 1921 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel in a marathon session tonight.

The only word that comes to mind is "heartbreaking". On so many levels. Profound, immeasurable heartbreak. But not the melodramatic, "how can I ever go on" heartbreak. It's a stunned, numbed, resigned surrender. Resignation of the deepest, most noble kind.

It's too much to digest immediately. It's going to take some time.

My recent reading has produced a most serendipitous sequence - Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" and Fitzgerald's "This Side of Paradise" were perfect primers for "The Age of Innocence". They are exceptionally complimentary to Wharton's work and immeasurably aided in my appreciation of her novel. More on this later.


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