Ethan Frome Audio CD – Audiobook, CD
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Edith Wharton is unique in the intimacy and sureness, not to mention the virile and satiric tone, with which she investigates this narrow and declining society (TLS)
Wharton's prose, with its menacing images of death and darkness, is superb. First published in 1911, it remains a hauntingly stark masterpiece (IRISH TIMES) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Novel by Pulitzer prize winning author of THE AGE OF INNOCENCE --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
The writing was very good and quite evocative. I really felt like a member of the 'cast' of characters.
The relative brevity of "Ethan Frome" is a major source of its power. The compression involved occasioning so many nuances and so much unstated meaning is at the very heart of this claustrophobic piece. In so many subtle ways Edith Wharton ratchets up the tension, without once stepping away from the restraint and delicacy of her characteristic style. So much of great literature, especially prose has as its central concern the struggle between the individual and the forces, social and psychological, that choke possibilities of living to the full. Here, with powerful intensity, all the greater for the quiet tone, Edith Wharton has produced a triumph of economy to express this theme with the most powerful,sensitive feeling.
Ethan Frome owns a run-down saw mill and scratches a meagre living from timber and what he can grow on his small farm. Tall, gaunt, and old before his years he's crippled, his lameness `checking each step like the jerk of a chain.' The narrator learns at the outset, .....`He's looked that way ever since he had his smash-up; and that's twenty-four years ago.............' No one wants to furnish any details of the accident. Thus Wharton immediately creates an interest, and the reader must wait until the very end to discover its circumstances. These occur in the penultimate chapter, and although the reader is forewarned of the impending tragedy the ending is no less poignant as the story winds up to its apogee. In contrast, and what amounts to an anti-climax, in the final short chapter the scene switches back to the present, with the narrator visiting Ethan in his home; the story ending with the protagonists as they are now, in their ironically changed relationship.
Poverty stricken and trapped in a loveless marriage, Ethan presents an example of the debatable saying that man is a slave to his environment; for his strict morality, lack of money and with no other place to go create a straitjacket from which he cannot escape. The sensitive story, told in flashback, unfolds his unsuccessful search for fulfilment in love, his struggle against the cruel winter weather of the Appalachian highlands and the abject poverty that threatens to crush him. And it abounds with the prose- poetry so characteristic of Edith Wharton. He felt `her lashes beat his cheek like netted butterflies.' Or, sitting by the stove after supper; `..... the faint sharp scent of the geraniums mingled with the odour of Ethan's smoke which began to throw a blue haze about the lamp and to hang its greyish cobwebs in the shadowy corners of the room.'
Some works of literature of a minimalist nature are as mighty as the mightiest. This book is one of them.
The whole book is crafted in exquisite language.
One of the things I like best about it is that there are no black and white answers to the moral questions it poses. Does Ethan's unfriendly wife Zeena deserve the harsh portrayal the story gives her, or should she be pitied? How far is Ethan the victim of circumstances, and how far is he responsible for his own downfall? The book ends without resolving these questions, but the implications of its story will send shivers down your spine.
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