The House of Mirth (Vintage Classics)
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"She was so evidently the victim of the civilization which had produced her, that the links of her bracelet seemed like manacles chaining her to her fate."
When it was first published in 1905, Edith Wharton's "The House of Mirth", received rave reviews, selling over 140,000 copies in its first three months. The New York Times called it "a novel of remarkable power" and established Wharton as a major American writer who would later become the first women to receive the Pulitzer Prize for literature.
Said to have accurately revealed the morality and manners of the golden age of New York aristocracy, Wharton satirically unfolds the descent of the beautiful but ill-fated Lilly Bart, as she sabotages her chances of a wealthy marriage, loses the sympathy of her unforgiving social circle, and descends into a life of poverty and despair.
About the Author
Edith Wharton (1862-1937) was born into an “Old New York” family that could trace its lineage back 300 years. Her writing became an escape from her ill-fated, painful marriage to a prominent Bostonian. The publication of The House of Mirth finally established her stature in the literary world. After her divorce in 1913, she spent the rest of her life in France, and received that country’s Cross of the Legion of Honor for her work in helping refugees in World War I.
mocked and broken life disarmed her contempt for his weakness. “I am very sorry for you—I would help you willingly; but you must have other friends, other advisers.” “I never had a friend like you,” he answered simply. “And besides—can’t you see?—you ’re the only person”—his voice dropped to a whisper—“the only person who knows.” Again she felt her colour change; again her heart rose in precipitate throbs to meet what she felt was coming. He lifted his eyes to her entreatingly. “You do see,
advanced to greet her. “Late for what?” enquired Mrs. Dorset tartly. “Not for luncheon, certainly—but perhaps you had an earlier engagement?” “Yes, I had,” said Lily confidingly. “Really? Perhaps I am in the way, then? But Mr. Selden is entirely at your disposal.” Mrs. Dorset was pale with temper, and her antagonist felt a certain pleasure in prolonging her distress. “Oh, dear, no—do stay,” she said good-humouredly. “I don’t in the least want to drive you away.” “You ’re awfully good, dear,
leaned forward, holding the tip of her cigarette to his. As she did so, he noted, with a purely impersonal enjoyment, how evenly the black lashes were set in her smooth white lids, and how the purplish shade beneath them melted into the pure pallour of the cheek. She began to saunter about the room, examining the bookshelves between the puffs of her cigarette-smoke. Some of the volumes had the ripe tints of good tooling and old morocco, and her eyes lingered on them caressingly, not with the
would see him. Lily, leaning back among her pillows, gazed musingly at his letter. The scene in the Brys’ conservatory had been like a part of her dreams; she had not expected to wake to such evidence of its reality. Her first movement was one of annoyance: this unforeseen act of Selden’s added another complication to life. It was so unlike him to yield to such an irrational impulse! Did he really mean to ask her to marry him? She had once shown him the impossibility of such a hope, and his
who dropped in on each other for tea. But her fears seemed the uglier, thus shorn of their vagueness; and besides, she had to act, not rave. For the first time she forced herself to reckon up the exact amount of her debt to Trenor; and the result of this hateful computation was the discovery that she had, in all, received nine thousand dollars from him. The flimsy pretext on which it had been given and received shrivelled up in the blaze of her shame: she knew that not a penny of it was her own,