The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
First published in 1920.
The Age of Innocence” is a timeless love story penned by renowned author Edith Wharton, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1921. Set in late 19th century New York City, the novel follows Newland Archer, a young lawyer torn between his arranged marriage to a conventional woman and his passionate love for her scandalous cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska. This literary masterpiece delves into the complexities of life within a society constrained by rigid rules and societal expectations. Through Newland Archer’s perspective, readers gain insight into the hypocrisy, snobbery, and pretense of the Gilded Age. With honesty, humor, and poignant observations, “The Age of Innocence” offers a profound exploration of the human condition.
Edith Wharton (1862-1937) was an accomplished American novelist, short story writer, and designer. She made history as the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Literature for her notable work, “The Age of Innocence.” Wharton’s writing is characterized by her meticulous attention to detail and profound understanding of the lives of the American upper class. Born into a prominent New York family, she received education both at home and in Europe. Wharton began writing in her teenage years, but it was not until 1899 that she published her first collection of stories, titled “The Greater Inclination.” Her debut novel, “The House of Mirth,” published in 1905, achieved great success both in the United States and abroad.
Throughout her career, Wharton authored over 40 novels and short stories, including notable works like “Ethan Frome” (1911), “The Custom of the Country” (1913), and “Summer” (1917). Notably, she used her writing to advocate for social reform, shedding light on the struggles faced by women and the working class in America. Wharton’s contributions extended beyond literature, as she founded the first school for underprivileged children in New York City. Additionally, she showcased her passion for travel through her travel books, capturing her experiences in Europe and the Middle East.
Wharton’s talent was not limited to writing; she was also recognized for her elegant and luxurious interior designs. Her works continue to be celebrated today, and she is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of her time. Wharton’s literary legacy remains influential, as her works are still widely read, discussed, and studied in academic circles, keeping her profound insights and storytelling prowess alive for generations to come.