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The Age of Innocence (TREDITION CLASSICS) [Paperback]

Edith Wharton
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

6 Nov 2011 TREDITION CLASSICS
This book is part of the TREDITION CLASSICS series. The creators of this series are united by passion for literature and driven by the intention of making all public domain books available in printed format again - worldwide. At tredition we believe that a great book never goes out of style. Several mostly non-profit literature projects provide content to tredition. To support their good work, tredition donates a portion of the proceeds from each sold copy. As a reader of a TREDITION CLASSICS book, you support our mission to save many of the amazing works of world literature from oblivion.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: TREDITION CLASSICS (6 Nov 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3842438079
  • ISBN-13: 978-3842438071
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 12.7 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,592,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

America's greatest woman novelist Sunday Times I love virtually all of Edith Wharton, but this one's my favourite... I admire her prose style, which is lucid, intelligent, and artful rather than arty; she is eloquent but never fussy, and always clear. She never seems to be writing well to show off. As for The Age of Innocence, it's a poignant story that, typically for Wharton, illustrates the bind women found themselves in when trapped hazily between a demeaning if relaxing servitude and real if frightening independence, and that both sexes find themselves in when trapped between the demands of morality and the demands of the heart. The novel is romantic but not sentimental, and I'm a sucker for unhappy endings -- Lionel Shriver There is no woman in American literature as fascinating as the doomed Madame Olenska... Traditionally, Henry James has always been placed slightly higher up the slope of Parnassus than Edith Wharton. But now that the prejudice against the female writer is on the wane, they look to be exactly what they are: giants, equals, the tutelary and benign gods of our American literature -- Gore Vidal Will writers ever recover that peculiar blend of security and alertness which characterizes Mrs. Wharton and her tradition? -- E. M. Forster Wharton's dazzling skills as a stylist, creator of character, ironical observer and unveiler of passionate, thwarted emotions have earned her a devoted following -- Hermione Lee Sunday Times

Book Description

The Age of Innocence' is widely considered to be Edith Wharton's finest novel. It is is also a major film directed by Martin Scorsese. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The emptiness behind the curtain... 19 Mar 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Age of Innocence is a work of beautifully subtle observation and delicacy, but though Edith Wharton paints with pastels, she delivers a vividly moving and meaningful fable on the damage society can inflict on the individual spirit.

What is fascinating about the novel, for me, is how nothing portrayed is at all as it seems, and yet there are never any glaring or obvious revelations or realisations - Wharton creates an environment in which everything is so delicately balanced that the tiniest ripple can assume seismic proportions. Newland Archer, a slave to respectability, and yet a closet dreamer, sees the beauty of the society he lives in, and its hypocrisy, but he never fully appreciates the strength of its ties and strictures until he finds himself drawn to the lovely Ellen Olenska, who symbolises, for him, a freedom and daring that he has never known. His affianced bride, May Welland, pales in comparison - to him she is merely an obedient ornament, a 'curtain dropped before an emptiness,' but he never realises the strength that lies underneath her apparent frailty. It is the steel in May Welland's character that is one of the most interesting aspects of the novel; Ellen Olenska outwardly appears to be a strong, free spirit, who shuns convention, but she is buffeted and bruised by the society that the delicate May Welland represents. May sees far more than Newland ever credits her for, and it seems that his journey through the novel is chiefly about the gradual realisation of all that he has missed. Newland is perhaps the only true innocent in the world he inhabits.

The novel is intensely bittersweet, and there are no clear heroes or villains, only individual strengths and weaknesses operating in an environment where society itself is the deity that controls all.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Newland Archer, the protagonist of this ironically entitled novel set in the late nineteenth century, is a proper New York gentleman, and part of a society which adheres to strict social codes, subordinating all aspects of life to doing what is expected, which is synonymous with doing what it right. As the author remarks early in the novel, "Few things were more awful than an offense against Taste." Newland meets and marries May Welland, an unimaginative, shallow young woman whose upbringing has made her the perfect, inoffensive wife, one who knows how to behave and how to adhere to the "rules" of the society in which they live.
When Newland is reintroduced to May's cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska, who has left her husband in Europe and now wants a divorce, he finds himself utterly captivated by her freedom and her willingness to risk all, socially, by flouting convention. Both Ellen and Newland, however, are products of their upbringing and their culture, however, and they resist their feelings because of their separate social obligations. Various meetings between them suggest that their feelings are far stronger than what is obvious on the surface, and the question of whether either of them will finally state the obvious remains unanswered.
Wharton creates an exceptionally realistic picture of New York in the post-Civil War era, a time in which aristocrats of inherited wealth found themselves competing socially with parvenus. Her ability to show the conflict between a person's desire for freedom and his/her need for social acceptance is striking.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite Writing but a very Narrow Social World 8 July 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I came to Edith Wharton's "The Age of Innocence" via a reading of another novel, of her's, namely Ethan Frome. Ethan Frome enticed me to read other novels by Wharton because in about 120 pages the novella threw up some interesting and pertinent themes such as the human being's capacity to revolt against the strictures of their social mores whilst at the same time being able to accept the limits to which they can stretch that revolt and come to some form of compromise that allows them to maintain some degree of individuality without overly upsetting the norms of their social milieu. On a much broader and more in-depth scale, The Age of innocence explores such themes.

The novel is broadly set in New York at about the end of the First World War. Wharton's characters are wealthy, upper middle class and striving to maintain the social mores that define their social milieu. Her characters organise exclusive social gatherings, attend the opera and gossip about the behaviour and fortune of each other. The two protagonists that potentially disrupt and shake up the attitude and behaviour of this group are Newland Archer and Ellen Olenska. Ellen, a member of the Welland family, has lived in Europe in an unhappy marriage to one count Olenska. She returns to New York apparently to escape the count's depravity and ultimately obtain a divorce. Ellen represents the outsider who perhaps unwittingly disrupts the cosy social life of her family and their friends. Newland Archer, a young lawyer engaged to May Welland, a cousin of Ellen Olenska, is given the task of persuading Ellen not to seek a divorce from her husband. A divorce would undermine the family's standing in their social context.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent reading
Published 11 days ago by R. J. Wheelton
5.0 out of 5 stars The Age of Innocence (Wordsworth Classics)
If you are interested in the depiction of the hypocrisy and futility of 19th century high society then this is the book to read.
Published 2 months ago by biglouis
4.0 out of 5 stars A Five-Star Ending
I've had this book for years but finally got around to reading it, spurred on by the sense that I haven't read enough American classics. I'm awarding 'The Age of Innocence' 4. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Catherine E. Chapman
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it and read it again. Brillaint!
I can read this book again and again and each time I get something new from it. Sometimes i think Newland was right in his decisions NOT to go up at the end as the right time has... Read more
Published 5 months ago by esther_mckenna@yahoo.co.uk
3.0 out of 5 stars Boring
Great service and all but the story was just boring and outdated, not suitable for more modern readers at all.
Published 5 months ago by Megan Meddings
2.0 out of 5 stars Most outdated book
The book is so much outdated that it has no connection whatsoever with today's world. I do not think I will ever finish it.
Published 6 months ago by ALGIS SVEIKAUSKAS
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT her best work in my opinion
I was a bit disappointed with this novel, which is odd given that popular opinion has it that this might be the author's best work. I would beg to differ on that point. Read more
Published 7 months ago by E. A. Banks
5.0 out of 5 stars am i supposed to review the book? or the kindle file?
excellent novel. i was really happy with how much i unexpectedly enjoyed this book. very emotional. a good history lesson also, a very interesting period of time. Read more
Published 8 months ago by MISS SAM MAY
5.0 out of 5 stars brill
Wharton magificently evokes the gilded age drawing on her own experiences. Pellucid prose and shattering insigts combine with a turbulent story equals greatness
Published 9 months ago by Jim..
4.0 out of 5 stars A good historical novel
It showed how times and morals have changed, although the story was very much focused on a particular group of people. Read more
Published 9 months ago by MrsVirginia R Porter
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