The Age of Innocence review · eBook or Kindle ePUB

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The Age of Innocence review · eBook or Kindle ePUB ✓ Winner of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize The Age of Innocence is Edith Wharton’s masterful portrait of desire and betrayal during the sumptuous Golden Age of Old New York a time when society people “dreaded scandal than disease”This is Newland Archer’s world as he prepares toTer a disastrous marriage Archer falls deeply in love with her Torn between duty and passion Archer struggles to make a decision that will either courageously define his life or mercilessly destroy. Myself and the Pulitzer prize have previously not always seen eye to eye but Finally I have read one worthy of giving top marks to This golden oldie captures the wholesome atmosphere of American life and the highest standard of American manners and manhood from a bygone era where modern ideas are resisted and tradition overcomes compassion The inhabitants of this hothouse of New York society is built on wealth life is lavished easy and comfortably cushioned but this world may just as well have been covered in a blanket of cobwebs as the lives are so sedate and uneventfully dull despite their opulent surroundings they appear colourless and motionless It is ultimately a tragic tale that Wharton weaves and yes as with a lot of classic fiction based around love it's told with air of melancholy because this love is one that doesn't really get off the ground For Newland Archer the leading male character there is an imagining of an alternative existence to the one that convention has pressed upon him he has built within himself a kind of sanctuary for his secret thoughts and longings Within these walls are his bride to be May Welland and Countess Olenska who would change his whole worldThe real loneliness is living among all these kind people who only ask one to pretendArcher is a perfect product of Old New York a member of one of the most prominent historic families he lives in the obligatory sumptuous brownstone on Fifth Avenue with his mild mannered mother and spinster sister and languidly pursues the law as most gentlemen of his age and inherited wealth do He is engaged to the young beautiful and eually impeccably bred May Welland who is sweet sweet natured but naive After twelve years away returns the Countess Ellen Olenska May’s cousin who through no fault of her own upsets the balance of Newland's life She is beautiful vivacious and intelligent whose long period of living in liberal European surroundings has made her innocent of the nonsensical unspoken rules of the society she has reentered and incapable of maintaining the shallow facade of her female relatives Newland feels a life of uiet misery lies ahead and despairs over Olenska as they grow closer and closer because he is forced by his own realisation to know how Ellen will be treated if she dares to divorce her husband and advises against it even though he is devoured by love for her Wharton mesmerizes with the sheer depth of emotion pain and frustration bearing down on Newland's shoulders he really is stuck between a rock and a hard place Through thwarted dreams despairing disillusionment unbearable regrets and the innocence that seals the mind against imagination and the heart against experience Newland and Ellen share a secret love that enables each of them to be the best people they can be fulfilled intellectually emotionally and socially and the fact they can never be together in harmony is just as unbearable for the reader as it is for the characters and this is where Wharton excels with people you truly believe in For May she is neither clever nor truthful and only rarely shows a spirit that reveals a depth of feeling in the face of connvention and social expectations In telling the story of how Archer and Olenska against all the strictures and taboos of their society fall in love Wharton seems to be siding with the individual in this universal tug of war But I don’t think it’s ever that simple Certainly New York's upper society in the 1870s was one of grandeur but it is described in Archer’s thoughts and Wharton’s observations as a prison of the mind one where the cells are sprinkled with gold dustThe finale of many years later moved me immensely I thought of all that went before a story that in terms of characterisation was searing on every page with the intensity of this doomed love affair A stunning novel impeccably told And I think it's unfair to simply label this as old fashioned 'chick lit' because it's about so much than what appears on the surface Her tone is sardonic and to some extent cynical of the social world into which the reader enters and she portrays this society its conventions and traditions through the unforgettable vivid characters whose behaviour and thinking were moulded in time

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Eaded scandal than disease”This is Newland Archer’s world as he prepares to marry the beautiful but conventional May Welland But when the mysterious Countess Ellen Olenska returns to New York af. Appearances can be deceiving as this superb classic novel revealsNewland Archer has the perfect life rich young and good looking a member in excellent standing of New York's High Society of 1871 during the Golden Age These people feel not like prisoners but brave members of a group keeping back the barbarians at the gate Newland is engaged to a beautiful charming girl May Welland also in the exclusive association who loves him But then her mysterious cousin arrives from Europe Countess Ellen Olenska married to a brute a Polish nobleman who repeatedly degrades her showing contempt for their marriage by parading lowly women in front of the Countess Not trying to hide his transgressions letting the world know it The fleeing woman is a childhood playmate of Mr Archer and he can still remember her as she he First seeing the fugitive again at the Opera with his future bride and family in their box May loves her cousin and Ellen loves May The Countess causes uite a stir with the audience men look approvingly at the attractive lady women critical Poor Ellen as the relatives call her living with an unconventional grandmother Mrs Manson Mingott so obese she needs help to get up nevertheless the lady is the head of the family and people listen to even though she has strange ways then again very rich but stingy There is an unstated powerful attraction between Archer and Ellen still duty prevents anything unsavory from happening besides Newland believes in the proper way of doing things A self described dilettante who goes through the motions of being a lawyer in an office where he has little to do Archer lives with his widowed mother Mrs Adeline Archer she is forever saying that everything is changing for the worse in the city and spinster sister Janey they look so alike the two could be sisters both depend on each other for companionship He's a secret fanatic a bookworm receiving the latest editions from London staying in a room reading that's when the gentleman is happy Mr Archer has no close friends the only person he can feel comfortable with be himself is Ned Winsett a penniless struggling journalist but of the lower class with a sick wife Newland wants his wedding to happen earlier than is the established custom hoping temptations will end if he is married to May Even traveling to StAugustine Florida on a surprise visit where May is vacationing with her family for that purpose his boss is not elated Mr Archer is wrong clearly the gentleman loves the Countess and she returns the sentiment Boorish banker Julius Beaufort vastly wealthy an uncouth foreigner married to an influential and uite proper lady a New York society woman with a propensity to break all the rules is chasing the skittish Ellen she needs to get away They meet clandestinely in Boston the Countess and Archer; away from the prying eyes of everyone the two hope just to hold each other At a family gathering in Newport Rhode Island Newland is told to fetch Ellen he goes down to the beach sees her on the pier passionately stares for a long time and retreats back to the house it would not be proper he thinks An elegy saturates the whole book from the first page to the last

Edith Wharton á 3 read

The Age of InnocenceWinner of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize The Age of Innocence is Edith Wharton’s masterful portrait of desire and betrayal during the sumptuous Golden Age of Old New York a time when society people “dr. ‘The longing was with him day and night an incessant undefinable craving like the sudden whim of a sick man for food or drink once tasted and long since forgotten He could not see beyond the craving or picture what it might lead to for he was not conscious of any wish to speak to Madame Olenska or to hear her voice He simply felt that if he could carry away the vision of the spot of earth she walked on and the way the sky and sea enclosed it the rest of the world might seem less empty’ There was never getting away from their circumstances for Newland and Ellen the protagonists of The Age of Innocence As I weep for them and their unreuited love I realized it was not meant to be Edith Wharton depicts masterfully New York’s traditions and judgmental airs which were from the start against them This elite group within which they existed had very rigid rules of behavior social rituals fashion and clear censures for those that violated them There is a clear hypocrisy in their life that existed behind their conservative moral exterior In reality they all lived in a kind of hieroglyphic world where the real thing was never said or done or even thought but only represented by a set of arbitrary signs As I started reading Edith Wharton’s crisp prose and witty dialogues I got to know Newland Archer May Welland and Ellen Countess Olenska What was inescapable from the outset is that they were a product of New York society of their timeAs Newland meets Countess Olenska he is not prepared for her worldly persona Thus it is that May and Newland make their engagement public right away to ease the acceptance of Ellen into their social pack May is considered the perfect model of what a young wife should be young beautiful soft obedient pliant conventional and with no opinions on anything of importance We would consider her boring but those were different times Newland starts out pretty much the same; he's a young lawyer used to his luxurious and idle style of living; all in accord with the strict rules of society Yes both are good persons with many amiable ualities but they simply are not exceptional They were clearly not in love just following rituals that defined that a young man should marry a nice girl with a good family ’There was no better match in New York than May Welland look at the uestion from what point you choose Of course such a marriage was only what Newland was entitled to’Newland and Ellen’s love story is nevertheless magnificent because it is the changes and character growth of both lovers that make it endearing and wonderful When we first meet Newland Archer he could not have been in tune with New York society’s status uo But Newland Archer was too imaginative not to feel that in his case and May's the tie might gall for reasons far less gross and palpable What could he and she really know of each other since it was his duty as a decent fellow to conceal his past from her and hers as a marriageable girl to have no past to conceal If Newland Archer seems indecisive and hesitant it's in part because he is conflicted with his values and desires He even starts defending new ideas ”Women ought to be free – as free as we are” Nevertheless it is easy to note how typical Newland Archer was when we first meet him how judgmental how hypocritical There was nothing mean or ungenerous in the young man’s heart and he was glad that his future wife should be restrained by false prudery from being kind in private to her unhappy cousin; but to receive Countess Olenska in the family circle was a different thing from producing her in public at the Opera of all places and in the very box with the young girl whose engagement to him Newland Archer was to be announced in a few weeks No he felt as old Sillerton Jackson felt; he did not think the Mingotts would have tried it on Could he have been traditional ’He hated to think of May Welland's being exposed to the influence of a young woman so careless of the dictates of Taste’ Yes in the beginning he hated the idea of his innocent fiancé being contaminated by the worldly CountessNevertheless Newland's careful and predictable world is flipped completely upside down when he meets and really gets to know the intriguing and intrepid Countess Olenska As the plot moves on we discovered all is not as we first envisioned Newland is changing as he falls deeper in love with Ellen He soon starts to show signs of rebelling against his previous ideals begins transforming himself A conversation with Ellen’s grandmother and family matriarch is particularly revealing Poor Ellen—she was always a wayward child I wonder what her fate will beWhat we've all contrived to make it he felt like answering If you'd all of you rather she should be Beaufort's mistress than some decent fellow's wife you've certainly gone the right way about it But his transformation is not fast or deep enough he is not able to entirely free himself from the constraints imposed on him by society and his own upbringing He is not courageous enough you might ask ‘His whole future seemed suddenly to be unrolled before him; and passing down its endless emptiness he saw the dwindling figure of a man to whom nothing was ever to happen’ But there is much at play here He soon realizes how restrictive his marriage was how loveless and lonely his life would be ’There was no use in trying to emancipate a wife who had not the dimmest notion that she was not free; and he had long since discovered that May's only use of the liberty she supposed herself to possess would be to lay it on the altar of her wifely adoration’ And much ’He perceived with a flash of chilling insight that in the future many problems would be thus negatively solved for him; nut as he paid the hansom and followed his wife he took refuge in the comforting platitude that the first six months were always the most difficult in marriage After that I suppose we shall have pretty nearly finished rubbing off each other's angles he reflected; but the worst of it was that May's pressure was already bearing on the very angles whose sharpness he most wanted to keep’ Even after understanding what his marriage would make of his life he cannot escape Outside it in the scene of his actual life he moved with a growing sense of unreality and insufficiency blundering against familiar prejudices and traditional points of view as an absent minded man goes on bumping into the furniture of his own room Absent—that was what he was so absent from everything most densely real and near to those about him that it sometimes startled him to find they still imagined he was there He cannot break up from convention although he dreams of going as far as Japan with Ellen Archer had fancied that his path was clear before him He had meant to have a word alone with Madame Olenska and failing that to learn from her grandmother on what day and by which train she was returning to Washington In that train he intended to join her and travel with her to Washington or as much farther as she was willing to go His own fancy inclined to Japan Even if the story is told through Newland’s point of view we cannot forget how much Ellen suffered Probably even than him since it seems she had no choice Oh I know—I know But on condition that they don't hear anything unpleasant Aunt Welland put it in those very words when I tried Does no one want to know the truth here Mr Archer The real loneliness is living among all these kind people who only ask one to pretend She lifted her hands to her face and he saw her thin shoulders shaken by a sob We also soon discover that May is not so innocent Although all her fight seems to be enforced to defend her marriage its survival and in that she would never change What she learned with her mother she would repeat in her marriage 'Now she was simply ripening into a copy of her mother and mysteriously by the very process trying to turn him into a Mr Welland' No she was never weak just limited I told her I was afraid I hadn't been fair to her—hadn't always understood how hard it must have been for her here alone among so many people who were relations and yet strangers; who felt the right to criticise and yet didn't always know the circumstances She paused I knew you'd been the one friend she could always count on; and I wanted her to know that you and I were the same—in all our feelings But Newland was still dreaming of breaking away from everything of being with Ellen He tells May he needs to get away but she was ahead of him Not an innocent at all ”I want to take a break–““A break To give up law”“To go away at any rate – at once On a long trip ever so far off – away from everything–“He paused conscious that he had failed in his attempt to speak with the indifference of a man who longs for a change and is yet too weary to welcome it Do what he would the chord of eagerness vibrated “Away from everything – “he repeated“Ever so far Where for instance” she asked“Oh I don’t know India – or Japan”“As far as that But I’m afraid you can’t dear Not unless you take me with you That is if the doctors let me go but I’m afraid they won’t For you see Newland I’ve been sure since this morning of something I’ve been longing and hoping for–““Have you told anyone else”“Only Mama and your mother That is – and Ellen You know I told you we’d had a long talk one afternoon – and how dear she was to me”“Ah–“ said Archer his heart stopping What I concluded is that Newland might be rebellious while May is until the end tradition itself This pattern we witness endlessly and when Newland ponders what their marriage and family life had been like it is all summed so clearly ‘This hard bright blindness had kept her immediate horizon apparently unaltered Her incapacity to recognize change made her children conceal their views from her as Archer concealed his; there had been from the first a joint pretense of sameness a kind of innocent family hypocrisy in which father and children had unconsciously collaborated’ For one thing his life as a man allowed him freedom even to circumvent social customs for he was not as closely watched Not that it was easier for him for he struggles between social conformity and honesty to one's emotions And not that May would want to change She was set on her role without any uncertaintyAnd often we see him contradict himself Despite his transformation we realize he will always be a 19th century man as we witness him saying things such as “What could he and she really know of each other since it was his duty as a decent fellow to conceal his past from her and hers as a marriageable girl to have no past to conceal” while later he will dream of running away with EllenThe essence of Edith Wharton’s novel is whether Newland and Ellen ever had a chance Not at their time And Ellen recognizes reality ”Ah my poor Newland – I suppose this had to be You’re engaged to May Welland; and I’m married” And Newland replied “It’s too late to do anything else” To apart mean a return to their old respective life patterns but to be together would mean going against what they both loved the most in the other I can't love you unless I give you up Being together would mean breaking too many rules hurting loved ones and carrying a guilt that would ultimately separate them if not physically for certain emotionally But you knew; you understood; you had felt the world outside tugging at one with all its golden hands—and yet you hated the things it asks of one; you hated happiness bought by disloyalty and cruelty and indifference That was what I'd never known before—and it's better than anything I've known This great work is a bittersweet love story at the mercy of society’s morals and ethics with conflicting values that prevents them from realizing their most ardent desire to be together I'd say this is the strong and beautiful point of this classic The idea that he could ever in his senses have dreamed of marrying Countess Olenska had become almost unthinkable and she remained in his memory simply as the most plaintive and poignant of a line of ghosts Even heartfelt The long was with him day and night an incessant undeniable craving like the sudden whim of a sick man for food or drink once tasted and long since forgotten The characters are forced to adjust and readjust to their changing life but that is still not enough At least it was not in their lifetime The changes they go through are not deep enough to allow them a happy ever after How painful to live through this changing times; and how dreadful to accept their fate I can just imagine and suffer for them and weep for them Here lies the greatness of The Age of Innocence Their fate was to be apart and so nothing rests for them but to keep their memories intact It's what we lost and our memories that stay with us If he had gone up to meet her it would be another story ’It's real to me here than if I went up he suddenly heard himself say; and the fear lest that last shadow of reality should lose its edge kept him rooted to his seat as the minutes succeeded each other’ Oh I have to repeat myself there is nothing heartbreaking than unreuited love So I weep again for them My first impressions “I can't love you unless I give you up” Oh Vessey I just finished The Age of Innocence And I have to tell you that the last 10% conuered me It made it me think that it had to be They were set on their way before Ellen arrived and Newland and Amy made public their engagement And I believe it had to end as it did Suddenly I discovered it deserved 5 full stars It's what we lost and our memories that stay with us If he had gone up to meet her it would be another storyI loved how it analyzed his marriage with May the old costumes that are no That hypocritical society that held him down is finally fading But too late for Ellen and Newland Well it is all still too new to me and the only thing I can say is that it touched me deeply Maybe because of my age since I know enough of life and remember all that I lost and could never simply be revisited It's real to me here than if I went up he suddenly heard himself say; and the fear lest that last shadow of reality should lose its edge kept him rooted to his seat as the minutes succeeded each other There is nothing heartbreaking than unreuited love So I weep for them