The House of Mirth
Publication Date: May 1993
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A black comedy of manners about vast wealth and a woman who can define herself only through the perceptions of others. The beautiful Lily Bart lives among the nouveaux riches of New York City - people whose millions were made in railroads, shipping, land speculation and banking. In this morally and aesthetically bankrupt world, Lily, age twenty-nine, seeks a husband who can satisfy her cravings for endless admiration and all the trappings of wealth. But her quest comes to a scandalous end when she is accused of being the mistress of a wealthy man. Exiled from her familiar world of artificial conventions, Lily finds life impossible.
About the AuthorEdith Wharton (1862-1937), American novelist and short-story writer, was born in New York City. Strongly influenced by Henry James, she is best known for her subtle and su-perbly crafted studies of the tragedies and ironies in the lives of members of middle-class and artistocratic New York soci-ety in the the nineteenth century. She was educated in New York and Europe, and married Edward Wharton, a Boston banker, in 1885. When her husband became mentally ill, she cared for him until 1913, when she settled permanently in France and divorced him. Among her best and most characteristic works are The House of Mirth (1905) and The Age of Innocence (1920), for which she received a Pultizer prize.
Cynthia Griffin Wolff is Class of 1922 Professor of Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is the author of A Feast of Words: The Triumph of Edith Wharton, Emily Dickinson, and Samuel Richardson and the Eighteenth-Century Puritan Character. She has edited many literary works, including Short Fiction of Major American Women Writers: Jewett, Chopin, Wharton, and Cather; Four Works by American Women Writers; and Edith Wharton's Summer, The House of Mirth, The Custom of the Country, and The Touchstone. Her essays and articles have appeared in many journals in the United States and Canada.