Thursday, March 17, 2011
'Short Stories' by Edith Wharton
Publisher: Dover Publications
Length: 124 Pages
What the Blurb says: 'Described by literary critic Robert Morss Lovett as "a novelist of civilization, absorbed in the somewhat mechanical operations of culture, preoccupied with the upper ('and inner') class," Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edith Wharton (1862-1937) also wrote superbly crafted works of short fiction. The seven stories in this excellent collection demonstrate the author's ability to create memorable tales on themes of love and marriage, divorce, the experience of the artist, high society and its workings and other topics.'
Opening Line: " I can never," said Mrs. Fetherel, " hear the bell ring without a shudder."
What's good about this novel?
Well, basically all of the things that the 'blurb' at the back of this book describes. I love the way in which Wharton plays with the conventions of marriage, divorces and the place of men and women in society. In the era she was writing, particularly in the 20's and 30's, I would imagine that Edith Wharton must have been something of a controversial writer, for daring to perceive life as something which goes against the pretense of status in society at that time.
Her writing style is extremely witty, her descriptions are clever and almost poetic in her choice of words. I enjoyed all of the stories contained within this collection of short stories. However, my favourite stories are 'Xingu', 'Expiation' and 'The Muse's Tragedy'.
The reasons why I liked these stories, were because Edith Wharton is able to demonstrate the complexities of the human nature, in a realistic, sensitive and amusing way. Her observations of people are brilliant and I could recognise myself in stories such as 'Xingu' and 'Expiation', because of the way that they deal with the life of a writer and the difficulty with social groups.
What's wrong with this?
There isn't a lot wrong with this novel. Being a fan of novels, I think that I would have passed this book of short stories by. Whilst I'm probably not going to become a short story reader, I'm glad that this book was recommended to me.
Is this worth a read?
Yes I do think this is worth a read, even if you're not much of a short story reader. Not only is Edith Wharton a good writer and her stories are entertaining, but also she provides an interesting insight, into broader, social matters.