The House of Mirth
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The House of Mirth (1905), by Edith Wharton, is the story of Lily Bart, a well-born, but penniless woman of the high society of New York City, who was raised and educated to become wife to a rich man, a hothouse flower for conspicuous consumption. As an unmarried woman with gambling debts and an uncertain future, Lily is destroyed by the society who created her. Written in the style of a novel of manners, The House of Mirth was the fourth novel by Edith Wharton (1862–1937), which tells the story of Lily Bart against the background of the high-society of upper class New York City of the 1890s; as a genre novel, The House of Mirth (1905) is an example of American literary naturalism.
intoxication in its breath; and Selden, hastening along the street through the squalor of its morning confidences, felt himself thrilling with a youthful sense of adventure. He had cut loose from the familiar shores of habit, and launched himself on uncharted seas of emotion; all the old tests and measures were left behind, and his course was to be shaped by new stars. That course, for the moment, led merely to Miss Bart’s boarding-house; but its shabby door-step had suddenly become the
pail. She had a broad sallow face, slightly pitted with small-pox, and thin straw-coloured hair through which her scalp shone unpleasantly. “I beg your pardon,” said Lily, intending by her politeness to convey a criticism of the other’s manner. The woman, without answering, pushed her pail aside, and continued to stare as Miss Bart swept by with a murmur of silken linings. Lily felt herself flushing under the look. What did the creature suppose? Could one never do the simplest, the most
this ignorance threw Mr. Gryce’s knowledge into agreeable relief. The only difficulty was to introduce the topic and to keep it to the front; most people showed no desire to have their ignorance dispelled, and Mr. Gryce was like a merchant whose warehouses are crammed with an unmarketable commodity. But Miss Bart, it appeared, really did want to know about Americana; and moreover, she was already sufficiently informed to make the task of farther instruction as easy as it was agreeable. She
literature. John Singer Sargent painted The Marlborough Family, Henri Rousseau The Hungry Lion, and Henri Matisse La Joie de vivre. Franz Léhar composed The Merry Widow, Claude Debussy La Mer, and Richard Strauss Salome. G. B. Shaw brought out Major Barbara, H. G. Wells Kipps, and E. M. Forster Where Angels Fear to Tread. There was considerable unrest in the United States as well as in Russia, and as the historian John Higham noted, “It was a time of mass strikes, widening social chasms, unstable
had found in them a renewal of old hopes and ambitions. The cruise itself charmed her as a romantic adventure. She was vaguely touched by the names and scenes amid which she moved, and had listened to Ned Silverton reading Theocritusck by moonlight, as the yacht rounded the Sicilian promontories, with a thrill of the nerves that confirmed her belief in her intellectual superiority. But the weeks at Cannes and Nice had really given her more pleasure. The gratification of being welcomed in high