The Age of Innocence
Publication Date: March 1996
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The return of the beautiful Countess Olenska into the rigidly conventional society of New York sends reverberations throughout the upper reaches of society. Newland Archer, an eligible young man of the establishment is about to announce his engagement to May Welland, a pretty ingenue, when May's cousin, Countess Olenska, is introduced into their circle. The Countess brings with her an aura of European sophistication and a hint of scandal, having left her husband and claimed her independence. Her sorrowful eyes, her tragic worldliness and her air of unapproachability attract the sensitive Newland and, almost against their will, a passionate bond develops between them. But Archer's life has no place for passion and, with society on the side of May and all she stands for, he finds himself drawn into a bitter conflict between love and duty.
About the AuthorPulitzer Prize-winning American writer and designer Edith Wharton (1862-1937) is the author of The House of Mirth, The Age of Innocence, Ethan Frome, The Decoration of Houses, and many other books.
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.
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- Why does Archer neglect to tell Countess Olenska of his engagement to May Welland, despite the fact that May has instructed him to do so?