The Age of Innocence is a novel by American author Edith Wharton. It was her twelfth novel, and was initially serialized in in four parts, in the magazine Pictorial Review. Later that year, it was released as a book by D. Appleton & Company. The Age of Innocence book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, The Age of Innocence is. Also by Edith Wharton · The House of Mirth · Ethan Frome · The Custom of the Country · The House of Mirth · Three Novels of New York. See all books by Edith .
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Winner of the first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded to a book written by a woman, The Age of Innocence is a suspenseful, deeply moving, and brilliantly accomplished. It subsequently appeared in book form from the American publisher D Appleton & Company of New York. In , The Age of Innocence. The Age of Innocence (Modern Library Best Novels) [Edith Wharton, Louis The book hinges on the words people are “chained to separate destinies,” and.
To discourage gossip, Newland decides to announce his and May's engagement at the Beaufort's ball that night. All of old New York is at the ball, gossiping about the Countess.
Later, when the family plans a dinner to introduce her to society, no one accepts. Without delay, the Mingott family enlist the help of ancient social sages, Henry and Louisa van der Luyden, to shore up support by inviting old New York to a dinner it cannot refuse. In this way they introduce the exotic Countess, and she finds New York society charmingly narrow and provincial compared to Paris. The next day Newland visits the Countess' small house in a Bohemian section of town.
He finds her drawing room exotic and her friendship with shady financier Julius Beaufort unsettling. But he senses her loneliness and, despite some misgivings, sends her yellow roses. The Mingotts enlist Newland's boss, Mr. Letterblair, to ask Newland to dissuade the Countess from seeking a divorce.
When Newland speaks with Ellen — a passionate and exotic woman, unlike his quiet, innocent May — he finds himself falling in love with her, despite his engagement. Worried by temptation, Newland flees to Florida where May's family is vacationing and asks May to move the wedding date up.
Startled, May tells him that if there is "someone else," he may have his freedom.
Offered his freedom, he does not accept it. Married, and desperate with desire for the woman whom he loves and who loves him, he is on the point of sacrificing her to his love when the woman to whom he is married discovers herself to be enceinte.
The planned dishonour is abandoned, and the tale is finished.
Convention rather than humanity has conquered impulse. Wharton tries her best to make the story moving, but she is dealing with dead stuff and dead people. They lived in New York in the seventies, and nothing she can do will make them come alive again. They interest us as old letters, old newspapers interest us. Had the theme been treated intensively we cannot know what might have been the effect.
When Newland Archer opened the door at the back of the club box the curtain had just gone up on the garden scene. There was no reason why the young man should not have come earlier, for he had dined at seven, alone with his mother and sister, and had lingered afterward over a cigar in the Gothic library with glazed black-walnut book-cases and finial-topped chairs which was the only room in the house where Mrs.
Archer allowed smoking. But, in the first place, New York was a metropolis, and perfectly aware that in metropolises it was "not the thing" to arrive early at the Opera; and what was or was not "the thing" played a part as important in Newland Archer's New York as the inscrutable totem terrors that had ruled the destinies of his forefathers thousands of years ago.
The second reason for his delay was a personal one. He had dawdled over his cigar because he was at heart a dilettante, and thinking over a pleasure to come often gave him a subtler satisfaction than its realisation. This was especially the case when the pleasure was a delicate one, as his pleasures mostly were; and on this occasion the moment he looked forward to was so rare and exquisite in quality that -- well, if he had timed his arrival in accord with the prima donna's stage-manager he could not have entered the Academy at a more significant moment than just as she was singing: "He loves me -- he loves me not -- he loves me!
She sang, of course, "M'ama! This seemed as natural to Newland Archer as all the other conventions on which his life was moulded: such as the duty of using two silver-backed brushes with his monogram in blue enamel to part his hair, and of never appearing in society without a flower preferably a gardenia in his buttonhole.
Newland Archer, leaning against the wall at the back of the club box, turned his eyes from the stage and scanned the opposite side of the house. Directly facing him was the box of old Mrs. Manson Mingott, whose monstrous obesity had long since made it impossible for her to attend the Opera, but who was always represented on fashionable nights by some of the younger members of the family.
On this occasion, the front of the box was filled by her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Lovell Mingott, and her daughter, Mrs. Welland; and slightly withdrawn behind these brocaded matrons sat a young girl in white with eyes ecstatically fixed on the stagelovers.
As Madame Nilsson's "M'ama! She dropped her eyes to the immense bouquet of lilies-of the-valley on her knee, and Newland Archer saw her white-gloved finger-tips touch the flowers softly.
He drew a breath of satisfied vanity and his eyes returned to the stage. No expense had been spared on the setting, which was acknowledged to be very beautiful even by people who shared his acquaintance with the Opera houses of Paris and Vienna.
The foreground, to the footlights, was covered with emerald green cloth. In the middle distance symmetrical mounds of woolly green moss bounded by croquet hoops formed the base of shrubs shaped like orange-trees but studded with large pink and red roses. Gigantic pansies, considerably larger than the roses, and closely resembling the floral pen-wipers made by female parishioners for fashionable clergymen, sprang from the moss beneath the rose-trees; and here and there a daisy grafted on a rose-branch flowered with a luxuriance prophetic of Mr.