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The House of Mirth

Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The House of Mirth
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Oxford University Press
Since its publication in 1905 The House of Mirth has commanded attention for the sharpness of Wharton's observations and the power of her style. A lucid, disturbing analysis of the stifling limitations imposed upon women of her generation, Wharton's tale of Lily Bart's search for a husband of position in New York Society, and betrayal of her own heart, transformed the traditional novel of manners into an arrestingly modern document of cultural anthropology. With incisive contemporary analysis, the introduction by a leading scholar of American literature updates this increasingly important work.

About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

Authors: Wharton, Edith, 1862-1937
Statement of Responsibility: Edith Wharton ; edited with an introduction by Martha Banta
Title: The house of mirth
Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, [2008]
Characteristics: xxxvii, 329 p. ; 20 cm
Subject Headings: Single women Fiction Social classes Fiction New York (N.Y.) Fiction
Genre/Form: Psychological fiction
Topical Term: Single women
Social classes
Additional Contributors: Banta, Martha
LCCN: 2009290458
ISBN: 9780199538102
0199538107
Branch Call Number: FIC W
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Apr 12, 2014
  • SophieMontague rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I am so glad i didn't live in this time. Was angry that the only way out for this character was to die! But realize that is exactly what the author was trying to show us; the inequity of being a woman.

Dec 26, 2012
  • jeanner222 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I’m not sure of the meaning of this novel’s title—very little mirth here, at least for our main character, Lily Bart.

Turn of the century New York sets the stage for Lily’s story. Lily walks a tightrope amongst the elite of the city. She is not wealthy; she is a hanger-on. She is beautiful, very beautiful, and her beauty is her currency.

As she ages and still fails to marry, despite her beauty, Lily begins to swim in dangerous waters. What is most troubling is that her failure to marry is her own fault. She doesn’t want to marry for just money, even though that is precisely what she needs to do. Of course, such a naïve notion becomes her downfall. And her downfall is sad and ugly.

I really enjoyed the first half of the novel, in which Lily still had status amongst the elite. The second half of the novel, which chronicles her downward spiral, is slow and depressing.

Sep 25, 2010
  • Bookwoman247 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Lily Bart is a young woman born into New York's Golden Age society.

In order to maintain her place in society, she must marry wisely. Being orphaned, she must look to herself to make a good match. As Lily says "...when a girl has no mother to palpitate for her, she must be on the alert for herself."

Even with the advantages of beauty, ambition, wiles, and great delicacy, Lily, without an interested party to look out for her, makes a series of fatal mistakes.

The inexorableness of Lily's fate, only whispered and hinted at at first, becomes more and more clear as the novel progresses until the reader is led to the inescapable conclusion. I felt as if I were firmly in the authors's deft hands through the entire book, although the author, herself, never intruded on the story once.

Wharton has got to be one of the most gifted writers of all-time!

Feb 05, 2010
  • macierules rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Lily Bart is the most memorable character to me since Elizabeth Bennet.

Very good book. Wharton comments on the society of Old New York, the role of women and the social mores of the time.

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Jun 13, 2008
  • ladytigressa rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

But now his love was her only hope, and as she sat alone with her wretchedness, the thought of confiding in him became as seductive as the river's flow to the suicide. The first plunge would be terrible, but afterward, what blessedness might come! ...Oh, if he really understood; if he would help her to gather up her broken life and put it together in some new semblance in which no trace of the past should remain!

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Wharton, Edith, 1862-1937
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