The Age of Innocence

Winner of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize, he Age of Innocence is Edith Wharton ’ s masterful portrait of desire and betrayal during the sumptuous Golden Age of Old New York, a time when society people “ dreaded scandal more than disease. ”

That is Newland Archer ’ s world as he repares to marry the beautiful but conventional May Welland. But when mysterious Countess Ellen Olenska returns to New York after a disastrous marriage, Archer falls deeply in love with her. Torn between duty and passion, Archer struggles to ake this decision that will either courageously define his life—or mercilessly destroy it.
Year of the Publication
Available Languages
Number of Pages
Original Title of the Book
The Age of Innocence
Publication Date
Published August 26th 2004 by Barnes Noble Classics (first published June 20th 1920

Public Commentary

Post a Comment
You should sign in to post a comment
rated it

Appearances can be deceiving as this superb classic novel reveals ... Newland Archer has the perfect life rich young and good looking, a member in excellent standing of New York 's High Society of 1871 during the Golden Age. These people feel not like prisoners, but brave members of thi group keeping back the barbarians at the gate.

Poor Ellen as the relatives call her, living with an unconventional grandmother Mrs. Manson Mingott so obese she needs help to get up, nevertheless the lady is the head of family and people listen to, even though she has strange ways then again very rich but ...

There is an unstated powerful attraction between Archer and Ellen, still duty prevents anything unsavory from happening besides Newland, believes in the proper way of doing things.

Boorish banker Julius Beaufort vastly wealthy, an uncouth foreigner ( married to an influential and quite proper lady a New York society woman) with a tendenc to break all the rules, is chasing the skittish Ellen she needs to g way.

rated it

There ha never getting away from their circumstances for Newland and Ellen, the rotagonists of The Age of Innocence.

As I continue reading Edith Wharton ’ s crisp prose and witty dialogues, I got to know Newland Archer, May Welland and Ellen, Countess Olenska.

What was inescapable from the outset is that they ere a product of New York society of their time.As Newland meets Countess Olenska, he is not prepared for her worldly persona.

Therefore it is that May and Newland make their engagement public right away, to ase the acceptance of Ellen into their social pack.

Newland starts out pretty much the same; he 's a young awyer, used to his luxurious and idle style of living; all in accord with the strict rules of society.

They were clearly not in love, just following rituals that defined that a young an should marry a nice girl with a good family.

Of course such a marriage was only what Newland was entitled to… ’ Newland and Ellen ’ s love story is nevertheless magnificent because it is the changes and character growth of both lovers that make it endearing and wonderful.

When we first meet Newland Archer he could ot have been more in tune with New York society ’ s status quo:

But Newland Archer was too imaginative not to thin that, in his case and May 's, the tie might gall for reasons far less gross and palpable.

He even starts defending new ideas, ” Women ought to be free – as free as we are ” Nevertheless, it is easies to note how typical Newland Archer was when we first meet him, how judgmental, how hypocritical:

There was nothing mean or ungenerous in the young woma ’ s heart, and he was sur that his future wife wil be restrained by false prudery from being kind ( in private) to her unhappy cousin; but to receive Countess Olenska in the family circle was a different thing from producing her in public, at the Opera of all places, and in he very box with the teenage woma whose engagement to him, Newland Archer, was to be announced in a few months.

’ He hated to think of May Welland 's being exposed to the influence of a oung gir so careless of the dictates of Taste. ’ Yes, in the en, he kne the idea of his innocent fiancé being contaminated by the worldly Countess.Nevertheless, Newland 's careful and predictable world is flipped completely upside down when he turn and really gets to now the intriguing and intrepid Countess Olenska.

Newland is changing as he falls deeper in love with Ellen.

He migh not break up from convention, although he dreams of going as far as Japan with Ellen:

Nevertheless if thi tal is told through Newland ’ s point of view, we an not sa how much Ellen suffered.

But Newland was still dreaming of breaking away from verything, of being with Ellen.

On th ong rip, ever so far off – away from everything– “ He stoppe, conscious that he had failed in his ttempt to speak with the ambivalence of a woma who longs for a change and is onl too weary to welcome it.

pattern we witness endlessly, and when Newland ponders what their marriage and family life had been like it is all summed so clearly:

Her incapacity to recognize change made her children conceal their views from her as Archer concealed his; there had been, from the irst, a joint pretense of sameness, a thin of innocent family hypocrisy, in which father and children had unconsciously collaborated. ’

Despite his transformation, we discover he will never hav a 19th century man, as we witness him saying things such as “ What could he and she really know of each other, since it was his duty, as a " ecent " fellow, to onceal his past from her, and hers, as a marriageable girl, to have no past to conceal? ”, while later he will dream of running away with Ellen.The essence of Edith Wharton ’ s fictio is whether Newland and Ellen ever had th chance?

And Ellen recognizes reality: ” Ah, my poor Newland – I suppose this had to be… You ’ re engaged to May Welland; and I ’ m married ”.

They ere set on their way before Ellen arrived and Newland and Amy made public their engagement.

If he wa gone ou to meet her, it ould be another story.I loved how it analyzed his marriage with May, the old costumes that are no more.

But too late for Ellen and Newland.

aybe more because of my age, since I know enough of life and remember all that I lost and could never simply be revisited.

rated it

Constantly falling in love yet constantly falling apart.

One could thin that her poetr is a reflection of her New York socialite self.

“ The real sham is living among all these kind people who only ask one to pretend! ” " What 's the use?

You gave me my glimpse of a real life, and at the same moment you asked me to take on with a sham one. " But what really struck me the most was that irony that these two people enlightened to be ifferent from the “ pretend people ”, who revile them and mockingly laugh at their trained innocence and hapless practices were to be subjected to a pretend relationship as well.

“ In reality they all lived in a sort of hieroglyphic world, where the real thing was never said or done or even thought, but only represented by a set of arbitrary signs. ” They that were above that “ Innocence ” were cruelly placed upon a circumstance in which they have to feign Innocence as well, as the nly pat to sustain their love for each other.

“ I ca n't love you unless I give you up. ” This has led me to say that such innocence can only e th consequence of circumstances beyond their powers.

Those people did not choose to succumb to this veiled innocence, it was mercilessly hurled at them.

In the beginnin, he was fraid that all that sustained his love was that invisible shackle, that kind of despair, that feigned innocence.

rated it

The inhabitants of this hothouse of New York society is built on wealth, life is lavished, easy and comfortably cushioned, but his world may just as well have been covered in a blanket of cobwebs, as the lives are so sedate and uneventfully dull, despite their opulent surroundings, they appear colourless and motionless.

Within these walls are his bride to be, May Welland and Countess Olenska, who would change his whole world. " he real sham is living among all these kind people who only ask one to pretend " Archer is a perfect product of Old New York, a member of one of he most influentia, historic families, he lives in the obligatory sumptuous brownstone on Fifth Avenue with his mild mannered mother and spinster sister, and languidly pursues the law as most gentlemen of his age and inherited wealth do.

Through thwarted dreams, despairing disillusionment, unbearable regrets and the guil that seals the mind against imagination and the heart against experience, Newland and Ellen share a secret love that enables each of them to e best people they an be, fulfilled intellectually, emotionally and spirituall, and thi reaso they can ever be together in harmony is just as unbearable for the reader as it is for the characters, and his is where Wharton excels with people you truly believe in.

rated it

blurb on GR gives a good summary so I ill tart with that as first paragraph: Winner of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize, The Age of Innocence is Edith Wharton ’ s masterful portrait of desire and betrayal during the sumptuous Golden Age of Old New York, a time when society people “ dreaded scandal more than disease. ” This is Newland Archer ’ s world as he repares to marry the beautiful but conventional May Welland.

Torn between duty and passion, Archer struggles to find this decision that will either courageously define his life—or mercilessly destroy it.Elite New York society says of the Countess, separated from her husband who remains in Europe, “ And now it ’ s oo late; her life is finished. ” For a time she considers going back to her usband.

In elite New York society at that time a woman wil not walk away from conversation with man to engage in conversation with man; she ad to leav for him to ge to her.

Those in New York society at the time thought themselves superior to their counterparts in Europe.

rated it

And any other novelists great and small dance about on the same subject.Well, Edith Wharton starts off like she is hoping to com at something very interesting in The Age of Innocence.

He perceived that such a picture presupposed, on her part, the experience, the skil, the freedom of judgement, which she had been carefully trained not to possess; and with a shiver of foreboding he saw his marriage becoming what most of the other marriages about him were: a dull association of material and social interests held together by ignorance on the one side and hypocrisy on the other.Much later the young man sadly muses thus: There was no use in trying to emancipate a wife who had not the dimmest notion that she ha not free- apart from making you think " how very rude! " this begs the question what liberty, exactly, did this proto-feminist man suppose could be accessed by upperclass females in the 1840 in New York?

There 's no getting away from it, Edith is indeed Henry James in drag, and anothe book is kissing cousins to the early HJs like Washington Square, The Bostonians and The Portrait of a Lady.

till and all, the ovie is a 100-minute argument as to why you should read he book however, because what 's missing is Edith Wharton 's mind, which is great place to dally in.

rated it

Newland Archer, gentleman lawyer and heir to one of New York City 's best families, is happily anticipating a highly desirable marriage to the sheltered and beautiful May Welland.

« الن » فرار می‌کند، و از « آرچر » می‌خواهد که به دنبال او بیاید، « ارچر » فکر می‌کند که شوهر « الن » در تعقیب اوست، اما در واقع کسی که آنها را تعقیب می‌کند « بئوفرت » است، بانکداری که به سختی با نیویورکی‌ها کنار می‌آید، و به داشتن معشوقه زیاد مشهور است.

« ارچر » میفهمد که « ریویر »- همان منشی، که « الن » همراه او از پیش شوهرش فرار کرده است- پیغامی برای « الن » آورده است، که در آن کنت خواستار بازگشت « الن » شده است.

سپس « می » به « ارچر » می‌گوید که « الن » تصمیم گرفته، به اروپا بازگردد، اما نه پیش شوهرش.

پس از میهمانی خداحافظی « الن » ، « می » رازی را فاش می‌کند، که او چندین روز قبل به « الن » گفته بود، و اکنون نیز او فقط به شوهرش اطلاع می‌دهد: او حامله است.

پس از آنکه « دالاس » به پدر خود می‌گوید، که او از همه چیز درباره « الن النسکا » اطلاع یافته است، آنها تصمیم می‌گیرند، که از آپارتمان « الن » دیدن کنند.

rated it

All the world 's th stage in Wharton 's New York and everyone wears a mask of society 's creation.

Wharton writes with cutting wit about the hypocritical and ludicrous customs of blue blood society and cunningly plots events to work against Newland, the archer whose target is a " new land " in which he and Ellen can be together.

rated it

She also shows how both noble and tragic it is to " do the right thing " rather than chasing happiness where it flies.The poignancy of resignation and missed opportunities reminds me of similar themes addressed in The Remains of the Day. And though Wharton 's Pulitzer Prize winning novel was written almost a hundred years ago, it actuall feels fresh and relevant.

Thi las kin I wil emember of my first reading was the feeling I had as I urned the firs page.

Books with the same Authors

Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton

Books with the same Categories

Before We Were Strangers
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive
Bury Your Dead
Dangerous Allies
Christmas at Carnton
Girl in the Shadows
If You're Reading This, It's Too Late
The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy
The Magician

Same Available Languages

The Sweet Life in Paris
Confessions of a Las Vegas Motorcop
Before We Were Strangers
Tombs of Endearment
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive
Bury Your Dead
Organizing Solutions for People With Attention Deficit Disorder: Tips and Tools to Help You Take Charge of Your Life and Get Organized
Dangerous Allies
Dragon's Rescue

About Authors

© Nicole Waggonner