Student Companion to Edith Wharton (Student Companions to Classic Writers) by Melissa McFarland Pennell
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One of the most accomplished American writers of the early 20th century, Edith Wharton achieved both critical recognition and popular acclaim. This Student Companion provides an introduction to Wharton's fiction. Beginning with her life and career, the volume places Wharton in the context of her times, focusing on how she was shaped by the culture of wealth and privilege into which she was born. Her struggle to resist the demands of her social world paralleled her characters' lives and contributed to the power of her writing. Included are an in-depth discussion of her writing, along with analyses of thematic concerns, character development, historical context, and plot. A close critical reading covers each of her major works, with a full chapter devoted to each: The House of Mirth (1905), Ethan Frome (1911), Summer (1917), The Age of Innocence (1920), and her two novellas, Madame de Treymes (1907) and The Old Maid (1924).
Another chapter addresses Wharton's short stories and considers some of her most famous and anthologized tales, such as The Other Two and Roman Fever. This companion is ideal for students who are reading Wharton for the first time, or for general readers who are seeking a greater understanding of her writing. A select bibliography offers suggestions for further reading about Wharton and includes criticism and contemporary reviews of her work.