Friday, November 30, 2012

Aimless Reading: The W's. Part 23 (Edith Wharton)

Novels
Wharton, Edith
Novels

Purchased online a couple of winters back. We were living in our house on Norwood Avenue. Lori was looking for something to reading. I suggested she read The House of Mirth, of which I still had a paperback copy I'd used a course I took in college called, "American Literary Realism."

The class was taught by Joanne Dobson, a Dickinson scholar. I remember reading Mark Twain and Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Edith Wharton and William Dean Howells and Sarah Orne Jewett. I think it may have been the first course I ever took solely focused on the novel. This is probably the reason I remember so many of the books.

Anyhow, Lori read The House of Mirth and liked it quite a lot and asked if I owned anything else by Wharton. I did not, I ordered this set of her novels on Amazon. Lori read through the whole thing and when she was done, after I had finished reading both Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina, I read The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence.

I later purged my library of the extra copy of The House of Mirth. But its memory remains.

from The House of Mirth

He saw that all the conditions of life had conspired to keep them apart; since his very detachment from the external influences which swayed her had increased his spiritual fastidiousness, and made it more difficult for him to live and love uncritically. But at least he had loved her--had been willing to stake his future on his faith in her--and if the moment had been fated to pass from them before they could seize it, he saw now that, for both, it had been saved whole out of the ruin of their lives.
It was this moment of love, this fleeting victory over themselves, which had kept them from atrophy and extinction; which, in her, had reached out to him in every struggle against the influence of her surroundings, and in him, had kept alive the faith that now drew him penitent and reconciled to her side.
He knelt by the bed and bent over her, draining their last moment to its lees; and in the silence there passed between them the word which made all clear.

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