Melanie V. Dawson's Edith Wharton and the Modern Privileges of Age makes a distinct and valuable contribution to studies of Edith Wharton through its attention to the theme of age as it evolves in her work. The book does more, too. Dawson expertly places Wharton's fiction in the broader cultural context of the early twentieth century in each chapter, from the rise of child marriages across the 1910s and into the 1930s and Warner Fabian's Flaming Youth (1923), to ads marketing rejuvenation products in the Pictoral Review, where Wharton published most of her 1920s fiction, to the history of the “flapper” stereotype. She provides insightful readings of texts by contemporaneous authors alongside Wharton—her discussion of Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms (1924) is especially provocative. Dawson's book takes what has been a passing observation about Wharton's fiction—that it pays a great deal of attention to the representation of age—and...
Edith Wharton and the Modern Privileges of Age
Nathaniel A. Windon is assistant professor of English at Xavier University. His research on pre-1900 American literature has been published in American Literature, American Quarterly, and Studies in American Fiction. He is working on his first monograph, which is about how an aversion toward old age became embedded in American society across the long nineteenth century.
Nathaniel A. Windon; Edith Wharton and the Modern Privileges of Age. Poetics Today 1 June 2023; 44 (1-2): 287–290. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-10342211
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