Sunday, March 17, 2013

New York Society

Old New YorkOld New York 
by Edith Wharton

“The idea that reading is a moral quality has unhappily led many conscientious persons to renounce their innocuous dalliance with light literature for more strenuous intercourse. These are the persons who "make it a rule to read.”  ― Edith Wharton

This is a collection of four stories centered on New York. It includes "False Dawn", "The Old Maid", "The Spark", and "New Year's Day". In "False Dawn" Wharton deplores the materialism and philistinism of the wealthy, dull people among whom she had grown up. "The Spark" is primarily a character sketch while "New Year's Day" is another critique of the insensitivity of Society. However, of the four novellas, my favorite is "The Old Maid". In it the beauty of Edith Wharton's writing is demonstrated as well as in any of her many novels and stories. The story chronicles the complex relationship between cousins who join together to hide the origins of an orphan. Not only the prose style, but the structure and the depiction of human relationships is exquisite. The entire collection which provides a good introduction to the work of Edith Wharton, is worth reading and rereading.

Old New York by Edith Wharton.  Scribners, 1995 (1924)

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