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Philip Horne

30 August 1990
Henry James and Edith WhartonLetters 1900-1915 
edited by Lyall Powers.
Weidenfeld, 412 pp., £25, May 1990, 9780297810605
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... EdithWharton is known, among other things, as the teller of the most devastating of the anecdotes displaying Henry James’s incapacity to communicate efficiently. The story told in her 1933 autobiography, A ...

Studied Luxury

Margaret Anne Doody

20 April 1995
No Gifts from Chance: A Biography of Edith​ Wharton 
by Shari Benstock.
Hamish Hamilton, 546 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 241 13298 3
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Edith WhartonAn Extraordinary Life 
by Eleanor Dwight.
Harry Adams, 335 pp., $39.95, May 1994, 0 8109 3971 1
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... The title of Benstock’s biography of EdithWharton is somewhat mal à propos. EdithWharton, other reviewers have pointed out, had plenty of gifts from chance. She was born, in 1862, into wealth and leisure, she had a sufficiency of good looks (in an era when that mattered even more than ...

Gatsby of the Boulevards

Hermione Lee: Morton Fullerton

8 March 2001
Mysteries of Paris: The Quest for Morton Fullerton 
by Marion Mainwaring.
New England, 327 pp., £23, March 2001, 1 58465 008 7
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... In the spring of 1907, a few weeks after EdithWharton had met Morton Fullerton in Paris, she described him to a mutual friend as ‘very intelligent, but slightly mysterious, I think’. Eight years later, by which time her passionate affair with ...
20 August 1992
The Sexual Education of Edith​ Wharton 
by Gloria Erlich.
California, 210 pp., £13.95, May 1992, 0 520 07583 8
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... camera lingers lovingly on another tasteful detail of the family’s upper middle-class home, we wonder whether we are expected to fear for the heroine or resent her. Gloria Erlich’s new study of EdithWharton also traces the dire effects of a mother’s reliance on a nanny. Though Erlich begins with a cautious disclaimer, suggesting ‘not that surrogate nurturing is a negative practice with ...

Self-Made Man

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Edith Wharton’s Domestic Arrangements

5 April 2007
Edith​ Wharton 
by Hermione Lee.
Chatto, 853 pp., £25, February 2007, 978 0 7011 6665 6
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... EdithWharton’s ‘background’ – the word is her own – has always seemed improbable for a future novelist. Persistent rumours that she was not the daughter of George Frederic Jones but the illegitimate ...

Short Cuts

Deborah Friedell: American Girls

8 March 2007
... EdithWharton’s characters are always getting into trouble at the theatre. In The Age of Innocence, it’s the place where Newland Archer first meets the disgraced Countess Olenska (and is mortified, because ...
19 January 1989
The Letters of Edith​ Wharton 
edited by R.W.B. Lewis and Nancy Lewis.
Simon and Schuster, 654 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 671 69965 2
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Women Artists, Women Exiles: ‘Miss Grief’ and Other Stories 
by Constance Fenimore Woolson, edited by Joan Myers Weimer.
Rutgers, 341 pp., $42, December 1988, 0 8135 1347 2
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... in The House of Mirth (1905), just after her humiliating confrontation with Gus Trenor compels Lily Bart to realise how terrifyingly ‘alone’ she is, ‘in a place of darkness and pollution’, EdithWharton’s doomed heroine thinks for the first time of the Furies: ‘She had once picked up, in a house where she was staying, a translation of the Eumenides,’ the novelist writes, ‘and her ...

I can’t, I can’t

Anne Diebel: Edel v. the Rest

21 November 2013
Monopolising the Master: Henry James and the Politics of Modern Literary Scholarship 
by Michael Anesko.
Stanford, 280 pp., £30.50, March 2012, 978 0 8047 6932 7
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... that the event would bring his work to the American public’s attention, but he feared that the venture would fail and be rebranded with the name of a more popular writer: ‘best of all as the EdithWharton!’ In 1902, when he made this prediction, James was hardly lacking in fame. And in the two years that followed he published The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl. After ...

Dressed in black

Margaret Anne Doody

11 March 1993
The Furies 
by Janet Hobhouse.
Bloomsbury, 296 pp., £15.99, October 1992, 0 7475 1270 1
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... as in our case, a huge, prosperous, civically active and internationally connected clan to a mere handful of desperate solitaries, operating like loose ball bearings in outer space. ‘Why, this is EdithWharton!’ I thought as I started reading it: ‘a new EdithWharton for our time.’ Of course, I was wrong about Wharton, as I found on reading the book further. Janet Hobhouse is concerned with ...
4 July 1985
Multiple Personality and the Disintegration of Literary Character 
by Jeremy Hawthorn.
Edward Arnold, 146 pp., £15, May 1983, 0 7131 6398 4
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Doubles: Studies in Literary History 
by Karl Miller.
Oxford, 488 pp., £19.50, June 1985, 9780198128410
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The Doubleman 
by C.J. Koch.
Chatto, 326 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 9780701129453
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... of Northanger Abbey and its posthumous publication. The Heroine beautifully burlesques literary treatments of the girl divided between romance and everyday, and, as Miller shows, beckons to the EdithWharton heroine at the end of the century, the EdithWharton of whom it was said, ‘Wherever there is romance it is the proof that you are outside yourself and leaving yourself behind’ – a ...

Four Poems

David Harsent

12 March 2009
... The Hammock Your book is Summer by EdithWharton. A smell off the garden of something becoming inedible. Between sleeping and waking, no real difference at all. There’s music in this, there would have to be: a swell of strings and bells becoming ...
7 March 1996
A Son at the Front 
by Edith Wharton.
Northern Illinois, 223 pp., $26, November 1995, 0 87580 203 6
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... EdithWharton’s reputation is finally disentangling itself from the long, fastidious shadow of Henry James. Only film and television could make the case in the public mind that Wharton is more than an imitative appendage of James. Scorsese’s intense version of The Age of Innocence found admirers, and the capering flounces of last year’s televised Buccaneers, with bosoms hardly ...
18 June 1981
Henry James Letters. Vol. III: 1883-1895 
edited by Leon Edel.
Macmillan, 579 pp., £17.50, March 1981, 0 333 18046 1
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Culture and Conduct in the Novels of Henry James 
by Alwyn Berland.
Cambridge, 231 pp., £17.50, April 1981, 0 521 23343 7
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Literary Reviews and Essays, A London Life, The Reverberator, Italian Hours, The Sacred Fount, Watch and Ward 
by Henry James.
Columbus, 409 pp., £2.60, February 1981, 0 394 17098 9
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... EdithWharton once asked Henry James why it was that his novels so curiously lacked real life. James’s private name for her was the ‘Angel of Devastation’, and the fact that she not only perpetrated this ...

A Conversation with Gore Vidal

Thomas Powers: Meeting Gore Vidal

30 July 2014
... every little while, from pure habit by this time, on the off-chance something will bite. He likes talking, but he likes sex more, and he never strays too far away. Here’s an example. James led to EdithWharton, and that reminded Vidal of R.W.B. Lewis’s book, which mentioned that she’d met a smoldering young writer in Italy named Alberto Moravia. So Vidal called Moravia to ask if he remembered ...

Things

Karl Miller

2 April 1987
The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories 
by Michael Cox and R.A. Gilbert.
Oxford, 504 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 19 214163 5
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The Ghost Stories of M.R. James 
by Michael Cox.
Oxford, 224 pp., £12.45, November 1986, 9780192122551
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Supernatural Tales 
by Vernon Lee.
Peter Owen, 222 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 7206 0680 2
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The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural 
edited by Jack Sullivan.
Viking, 482 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 670 80902 0
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Ghostly Populations 
by Jack Matthews.
Johns Hopkins, 171 pp., £11.75, March 1987, 0 8018 3391 4
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... people. In John Buchan’s, dear old glamorous Fullcircle wins over what he presents as a bloody awful married couple – ‘Hampstead’ progressives – to a pagan-Catholic frame of mind, while EdithWharton’s house, Bells, nearest post-office Thudeney-Blazes, tries the strength of the sensible grand lady who inherits it. ‘ “Fudge!” muttered Lady Jane,’ who is ‘interested in old ...

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