Reading Edith Wharton
Edith Wharton, arguably the most important early twentieth-century American woman of letters, won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for The Age of Innocence; received an honorary doctorate of letters from Yale University, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. This series of four lectures by Caroline Levander will consider Edith Wharton’s life and career as revealed in her major novels. We will begin with House of Mirth (1905), which established her international literary reputation. The subject of the second meeting will be Ethan Frome (1911), written after Wharton settled in Paris and helped her husband through a nervous breakdown. We then turn to Summer (1917), written amid the devastation of war-torn France. Our final session will be devoted to The Age of Innocence (1920), the culminating novel of her career.
Caroline Field Levander is a professor of English and director of the Humanities Research Center at Rice University. She is the author of Cradle of Liberty: Race, the Child, and National Belonging from Thomas Jefferson to W. E. B. Du Bois (2006).
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