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The Custom of the Country (Annotated)
 
 

The Custom of the Country (Annotated) [Kindle Edition]

Edith Wharton
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Review

"A well-presented edition. Orgel's introduction is superior."--Marvin Magalaner, NYU
"An excellent edition, with just the right amount of apparatus."--Burton Raffel, University of Southwestern Louisiana

Product Description

This Edition Features
● A Detailed Biography of Edith Wharton
● A Fully Interactive Table of Contents
● Superior Kindle Formatting

The Custom of the Country (1913) is a cutting commentary on America’s nouveaux riches, their upward-yearning aspirations and their eventual downfalls. Through her heroine, the beautiful and ruthless Undine Spragg, a spoiled heiress who looks to her next materialistic triumph as her latest conquest throws himself at her feet, Edith Wharton presents a startling, satiric vision of social behavior in all its greedy glory. As Undine moves from America’s heartland to Manhattan, and then to Paris, Wharton’s critical eye leaves no social class unscathed.

Seahorse Classics brings great works of literature to life in digital format, upholding the highest standards in e-book production and celebrating reading in all its forms. Look for more titles in the Seahorse Classics collection to build your digital library.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 631 KB
  • Print Length: 379 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Seahorse Publishing (12 Jun 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DDDM356
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #308,473 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unapologetic story of social demands 7 July 2009
By Malo
Format:Paperback
"The Custom of the Country" is hard and unflinching in its telling of Undine Spragg's relentless pursuit for fortune and fame in the early 20th century. Through Undine Spragg and her various loves, Ms Wharton articulates her thoughts on the effect of the New York society's customs on the expected roles of men and behaviours of women. Ms Wharton further shows that the same can be said of another country's society when she moves the story to Paris in the later part of the book.

In Undine Spragg, Ms Wharton has spared no punches in portraying her self-centred personality and thoughts, who according to her is a perfect example of the product of New York society's customs.

As with the "House of Mirth", very few of the characters in "The Custom of the Country" were given a reprieve from the fate that they seem destined to suffer. This cannot be brought across more starkly than in the scene where Undine's husband, Ralph Marvell, finally uncovers the full scale of her lies and deception. His subsequent mental breakdown is excruciating and highly emotive. Yet at the same time, there is an ethereal quality to the loss of his grip on reality, which makes for compelling and climatic reading.

Ms Wharton does not, for any moment, spare her reader any anguish and agony in the story of Undine Spragg and particularly that of Ralph Marvell. The rare moments of true tenderness and calm in the novel are often employed to sensitise one's feelings and deepen the pity, before a devastating blow is delivered. At such points, one cannot help but submit helplessly and almost unquestioningly to Ms Wharton's portrayal of her characters, and ultimately to her sublime story-telling.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is our custom 13 Feb 2007
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Few social climbers are as surreally despicable as Edith Wharton's Undine Spragg, who doesn't care what happens to anyone else as long as she can shop and party. And "The Custom of the Country" is the perfect example of what such people do to the people around them. It's nauseating and brilliant, all at once.

Undine Spragg is a mesmerizing beauty from a tiny town, whose parents made a small-scale fortune and have moved to the glitzy world of New York. Undine wants the best of everything, more than her family can afford, but she thinks it's all worth it -- so she marries a besotted son of "old New York," but it doesn't take long for him to realize how incompatible they are.

And he doesn't realize that Undine is hiding a (then) shameful secret -- she was once married and quickly divorced from a vulgar businessman. In the present, Undine continues her quest for a life of pleasure, moving on to a French nobleman and getting just as dissatisfied with him. The only way to succeed lies in the one man who sees her for what she is.

Undine Spragg may actually be one of the most despicable, selfish characters in all of classic literature -- she literally doesn't care about anyone but herself, or who she hurts. You'd think a book about someone like that would be dreary, but instead it's one long needle at the people like Undine, who care only for money, status and fun.

But it's also about the changing fortunes in late 19th-century America (and Europe). New money -- symbolized by Undine and her shrewd, megarich ex-hubby -- was squeezing out the old guard, who were never terribly rich to start with. Wharton's observations on their rise and decline have a sharp, biting edge. Although compared to the anti-heroine, the old traditions seem pretty innocent.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Savage customs 16 Oct 2008
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Few social climbers are as surreally despicable as Edith Wharton's Undine Spragg, who doesn't care what happens to anyone else as long as she can shop and party. And "The Custom of the Country" is the perfect example of what such people do to the people around them. It's nauseating and brilliant, all at once.

Undine Spragg is a mesmerizing beauty from a tiny town, whose parents made a small-scale fortune and have moved to the glitzy world of New York. Undine wants the best of everything, more than her family can afford, but she thinks it's all worth it -- so she marries a besotted son of "old New York," but it doesn't take long for him to realize how incompatible they are.

And he doesn't realize that Undine is hiding a (then) shameful secret -- she was once married and quickly divorced from a vulgar businessman. In the present, Undine continues her quest for a life of pleasure, moving on to a French nobleman and getting just as dissatisfied with him. The only way to succeed lies in the one man who sees her for what she is.

Undine Spragg may actually be one of the most despicable, selfish characters in all of classic literature -- she literally doesn't care about anyone but herself, or who she hurts. You'd think a book about someone like that would be dreary, but instead it's one long needle at the people like Undine, who care only for money, status and fun.

But it's also about the changing fortunes in late 19th-century America (and Europe). New money -- symbolized by Undine and her shrewd, megarich ex-hubby -- was squeezing out the old guard, who were never terribly rich to start with. Wharton's observations on their rise and decline have a sharp, biting edge. Although compared to the anti-heroine, the old traditions seem pretty innocent.
Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Custom of the Country
Undine Spragg knows she wants to be part of `Society' - part of the Fifth Avenue crowd; and she sees no reason why she should not be. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Keen Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars An American Great!
A real surprise discovery! An excellent novel - elevating Wharton to a medal - probably bronze but maybe silver, to Jane Austen's gold ....
Published 17 months ago by Stephen Hill
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Wharton's Best
I was altogether disappointed by this novel about the unscrupulous ambitious social climber Undine Spragg and the man that she destroys. Read more
Published on 5 Jan 2012 by Cara Bennett
4.0 out of 5 stars A different sometimes funny direction for Wharton
The Custom of the Country was originally published in 1913 and tells the story of Undine Spragg, a girl who uses her beauty and ruthlessness to attempt to ascend New York's social... Read more
Published on 28 Nov 2011 by J. Willis
4.0 out of 5 stars strong portrait of a narcissist
Undine Spragg sees no reason why she should not have what she wants; and is able to create a world in which it does come to pass that she does have what she wants, often at... Read more
Published on 16 Nov 2011 by William Jordan
4.0 out of 5 stars Edith Wharton
My first Edith Wharton. As relevant to day as the day it was written. A brilliant read and just for 1p!Book arrived promptly from seller.
Published on 15 April 2010 by A. Wilson
2.0 out of 5 stars Much ado about Undine Spragg
Undine Spragg is an interesting heroine. To get what she wants, she gets married, she divorces, she lies. She never feels bad about it. Read more
Published on 18 May 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing-not one of her best works.
Being an avid Edith Wharton reader, I was looking forward to yet another brilliant and engaging portrayal of the New York of the past. Read more
Published on 12 Oct 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read!
Edith Wharton takes the reader back in time as she eloquently depicts life at the turn of the century for New York's wealthy elite. Read more
Published on 11 Sep 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply brilliant
What an incredible book this is. I'm so glad the other reader-reviewers here also appreciate it for what it is: a haunting masterpiece by one of America's most gifted novelists. Read more
Published on 3 Sep 1998
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