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The Age of Innocence [Anglais] [Broché]

Edith Wharton
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Extrait

Chapter One


ON A January evening of the early seventies, Christine Nilsson was singing in "Faust" at the Academy of Music in New York.

Though there was already talk of the erection, in remote metropolitan distances "above the Forties," of a new Opera House which should compete in costliness and splendour with those of the great European capitals, the world of fashion was still content to reassemble every winter in the shabby red and gold boxes of the sociable old Academy. Conservatives cherished it for being small and inconvenient, and thus keeping out the "new people" whom New York was beginning to dread and yet be drawn to; and the sentimental clung to it for its historic associations, and the musical for its excellent acoustics, always so problematic a quality in halls built for the hearing of music.

It was Madame Nilsson's first appearance that winter, and what the daily press had already learned to describe as "an exceptionally brilliant audience" had gathered to hear her, transported through the slippery, snowy streets in private broughams, in the spacious family landau, or in the humbler but more convenient "Brown coupé." To come to the Opera in a Brown coupe was almost as honourable a way of arriving as in one's own carriage; and departure by the same means had the immense advantage of enabling one (with a playful allusion to democratic principles) to scramble into the first Brown conveyance in the line, instead of waiting till the cold-and-gin congested nose of one's own coachman gleamed under the portico of the Academy. It was one of the great livery-stableman's most masterly intuitions to have discovered that Americans want to get away from amusement even more quickly than they want to get to it.

When Newland Archer opened the door at the back of the club box the curtain had just gone up on the garden scene. There was no reason why the young man should not have come earlier, for he had dined at seven, alone with his mother and sister, and had lingered afterward over a cigar in the Gothic library with glazed black-walnut bookcases and finial-topped chairs which was the only room in the house where Mrs. Archer allowed smoking. But, in the first place, New York was a metropolis, and perfectly aware that in metropolises it was "not the thing" to arrive early at the opera; and what was or was not "the thing" played a part as important in Newland Archer's New York as the inscrutable totem terrors that had ruled the destinies of his forefathers thousands of years ago.

The second reason for his delay was a personal one. He had dawdled over his cigar because he was at heart a dilettante, and thinking over a pleasure to come often gave him a subtler satisfaction than its realisation. This was especially the case when the pleasure was a delicate one, as his pleasures mostly were; and on this occasion the moment he looked forward to was so rare and exquisite in quality that--well, if he had timed his arrival in accord with the prima donna's stage-manager he could not have entered the Academy at a more significant moment than just as she was singing: "He loves me--he loves me not--he loves me!--" and sprinkling the falling daisy petals with notes as clear as dew.

She sang, of course, "M'ama!" and not "he loves me," since an unalterable and unquestioned law of the musical world required that the German text of French operas sung by Swedish artists should be translated into Italian for the clearer understanding of English-speaking audiences. This seemed as natural to Newland Archer as all the other conventions on which his life was moulded: such as the duty of using two silver-backed brushes with his monogram in blue enamel to part his hair, and of never appearing in society without a flower (preferably a gardenia) in his buttonhole.

"M'ama . . . non m'ama . . ." the prima donna sang, and "M'ama!" with a final burst of love triumphant, as she pressed the dishevelled daisy to her lips and lifted her large eyes to the sophisticated countenance of the little brown Faust-Capoul, who was vainly trying, in a tight purple velvet doublet and plumed cap, to look as pure and true as his artless victim.

Newland Archer, leaning against the wall at the back of the club box, turned his eyes from the stage and scanned the opposite side of the house. Directly facing him was the box of old Mrs. Manson Mingott, whose monstrous obesity had long since made it impossible for her to attend the Opera, but who was always represented on fashionable nights by some of the younger members of the family. On this occasion, the front of the box was filled by her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Lovell Mingott, and her daughter, Mrs. Welland; and slightly withdrawn behind these brocaded matrons sat a young girl in white with eyes ecstatically fixed on the stage lovers. As Madame Nilsson's "M'ama!" thrilled out above the silent house (the boxes always stopped talking during the Daisy Song) a warm pink mounted to the girl's cheek, mantled her brow to the roots of her fair braids, and suffused the young slope of her breast to the line where it met a modest tulle tucker fastened with a single gardenia. She dropped her eyes to the immense bouquet of lilies-of-the-valley on her knee, and Newland Archer saw her white-gloved finger-tips touch the flowers softly. He drew a breath of satisfied vanity and his eyes returned to the stage.

No expense had been spared on the setting, which was acknowledged to be very beautiful even by people who shared his acquaintance with the Opera Houses of Paris and Vienna. The foreground, to the footlights, was covered with emerald green cloth. In the middle distance symmetrical mounds of woolly green moss bounded by croquet hoops formed the base of shrubs shaped like orange-trees but studded with large pink and red roses. Gigantic pansies, considerably larger than the roses, and closely resembling the floral pen-wipers made by female parishioners for fashionable clergymen, sprang from the moss beneath the rose-trees; and here and there a daisy grafted on a rose-branch flowered with a luxuriance prophetic of Mr. Luther Burbank's far-off prodigies.

In the centre of this enchanted garden Madame Nilsson, in white cashmere slashed with pale blue satin, a reticule dangling from a blue girdle, and large yellow braids carefully disposed on each side of her muslin chemisette, listened with downcast eyes to M. Capoul's impassioned wooing, and affected a guileless incomprehension of his designs whenever, by word or glance, he persuasively indicated the ground floor window of the neat brick villa projecting obliquely from the right wing.

"The darling!" thought Newland Archer, his glance flitting back to the young girl with the lilies-of-the-valley. "She doesn't even guess what it's all about." And he contemplated her absorbed young face with a thrill of possessorship in which pride in his own masculine initiation was mingled with a tender reverence for her abysmal purity. "We'll read Faust together . . . by the Italian lakes . . ." he thought, somewhat hazily confusing the scene of his projected honeymoon with the masterpieces of literature which it would be his manly privilege to reveal to his bride. It was only that afternoon that May Welland had let him guess that she "cared" (New York's consecrated phrase of maiden avowal), and already his imagination, leaping ahead of the engagement ring, the betrothal kiss and the march from "Lohengrin," pictured her at his side in some scene of old European witchery.

He did not in the least wish the future Mrs. Newland Archer to be a simpleton. He meant her (thanks to his enlightening companionship) to develop a social tact and readiness of wit enabling her to hold her own with the most popular married women of the "younger set," in which it was the recognised custom to attract masculine homage while playfully discouraging it. If he had probed to the bottom of his vanity (as he sometimes nearly did) he would have found there the wish that his wife should be as worldly-wise and as eager to please as the married lady whose charms had held his fancy through two mildly agitated years; without, of course, any hint of the frailty which had so nearly marred that unhappy being's life, and had disarranged his own plans for a whole winter.

How this miracle of fire and ice was to be created, and to sustain itself in a harsh world, he had never taken the time to think out; but he was content to hold his view without analysing it, since he knew it was that of all the carefully-brushed, white-waistcoated, buttonhole-flowered gentlemen who succeeded each other in the club box, exchanged friendly greetings with him, and turned their opera-glasses critically on the circle of ladies who were the product of the system. In matters intellectual and artistic Newland Archer felt himself distinctly the superior of these chosen specimens of old New York gentility; he had probably read more, thought more, and even seen a good deal more of the world, than any other man of the number. Singly they betrayed their inferiority; but grouped together they represented "New York," and the habit of masculine solidarity made him accept their doctrine on all the issues called moral. He instinctively felt that in this respect it would be troublesome--and also rather bad form--to strike out for himself.

"Well--upon my soul!" exclaimed Lawrence Lefferts, turning his opera-glass abruptly away from the stage. Lawrence Lefferts was, on the whole, the foremost authority on "form" in New York. He had probably devoted more time than any one else to the study of this intricate and fascinating question; but study alone could not account for his complete and easy competence. One had only to look at him, from the slant of his bald forehead and the curve of his beautiful fair moustache to the long patent-leather feet at the other end of his lean and elegant person, to feel that the knowledge of "form" must be congenital in any one who knew how to wear such good clothes so carelessly and carry such height with so much lounging grace. As a young admirer had once said of him: "If anybody can tell a fellow just when to wear a black tie with evening clothes and when not to, it's Larry Lefferts." And on the question of pumps versus patent-leather "Oxfords" his authority had never been disputed.

"My God!" he said; and silently handed his glass to old Sillerton Jackson.

Newland Archer, following Lefferts's glance, saw with surprise that his exclamation had been occasioned by the entry of a new figure into old Mrs. Mingott's box. It was that of a slim young woman, a little less tall than May Welland, with brown hair growing in close curls about her temples and held in place by a narrow band of diamonds. The suggestion of this headdress, which gave her what was then called a "Josephine look," was carried out in the cut of the dark blue velvet gown rather theatrically caught up under her bosom by a girdle with a large old-fashioned clasp. The wearer of this unusual dress, who seemed quite unconscious of the attention it was attracting, stood a moment in the centre of the box, discussing with Mrs. Welland the propriety of taking the latter's place in the front right-hand corner; then she yielded with a slight smile, and seated herself in line with Mrs. Welland's sister-in-law, Mrs. Lovell Mingott, who was installed in the opposite corner.

Mr. Sillerton Jackson had returned the opera-glass to Lawrence Lefferts. The whole of the club turned instinctively, waiting to hear what the old man had to say; for old Mr. Jackson was as great an authority on "family" as Lawrence Lefferts was on "form." He knew all the ramifications of New York's cousinships; and could not only elucidate such complicated questions as that of the connection between the Mingotts (through the Thorleys) with the Dallases of South Carolina, and that of the relationship of the elder branch of Philadelphia Thorleys to the Albany Chiverses (on no account to be confused with the Manson Chiverses of University Place), but could also enumerate the leading characteristics of each family: as, for instance, the fabulous stinginess of the younger lines of Leffertses (the Long Island ones); or the fatal tendency of the Rushworths to make foolish matches; or the insanity recurring in every second generation of the Albany Chiverses, with whom their New York cousins had always refused to intermarry--with the disastrous exception of poor Medora Manson, who, as everybody knew . . . but then her mother was a Rushworth.

In addition to this forest of family trees, Mr. Sillerton Jackson carried between his narrow hollow temples, and under his soft thatch of silver hair, a register of most of the scandals and mysteries that had smouldered under the unruffled surface of New York society within the last fifty years. So far indeed did his information extend, and so acutely retentive was his memory, that he was supposed to be the only man who could have told you who Julius Beaufort, the banker, really was, and what had become of handsome Bob Spicer, old Mrs. Manson Mingott's father, who had disappeared so mysteriously (with a large sum of trust money) less than a year after his marriage, on the very day that a beautiful Spanish dancer who had been delighting thronged audiences in the old Opera House on the Battery had taken ship for Cuba. But these mysteries, and many others, were closely locked in Mr. Jackson's breast; for not only did his keen sense of honour forbid his repeating anything privately imparted, but he was fully aware that his reputation for discretion increased his opportunities of finding out what he wanted to know.

The club box, therefore, waited in visible suspense while Mr. Sillerton Jackson handed back Lawrence Lefferts's opera-glass. For a moment he silently scrutinised the attentive group out of his filmy blue eyes overhung by old veined lids; then he gave his moustache a thoughtful twist, and said simply: "I didn't think the Mingotts would have tried it on."

Chapter Two



NEWLAND ARCHER, during this brief episode, had been thrown into a strange state of embarrassment. It was annoying that the box which was thus attracting the undivided attention of masculine New York should be that in which his betrothed was seated between her mother and aunt; and for a moment he could not identify the lady in the Empire dress, nor imagine why her presence created such excitement among the initiated. Then light dawned on him, and with it came a momentary rush of indignation. No, indeed; no one would have thought the Mingotts would have tried it on!


From the Paperback edition. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Revue de presse

"Is it--in this world--vulgar to ask for more? To entreat a little wildness, a dark place or two in the soul?"--Katherine Mansfield

"There is no woman in American literature as fascinating as the doomed Madame Olenska. . . . Traditionally, Henry James has always been placed slightly higher up the slope of Parnassus than Edith Wharton. But now that the prejudice against the female writer is on the wane, they look to be exactly what they are: giants, equals, the tutelary and benign gods of our American literature."--Gore Vidal

"Will writers ever recover that peculiar blend of security and alertness which characterizes Mrs. Wharton and her tradition?"--E. M. Forster --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 240 pages
  • Editeur : Dover Publications Inc.; Édition : New edition (21 janvier 1998)
  • Collection : Dover Thrift Editions
  • Langue : Français
  • ISBN-10: 0486298035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486298030
  • Dimensions du produit: 20,9 x 13,1 x 1,5 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 173.684 en Livres (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres)
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14 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Such a pretty melody 24 décembre 2007
Format:Broché
So far I have read Edith Wharton's books of Summer, Ethan Frome and The Age of Innocence. I am in with love her unique writing style. Most time can't put my feelings aside while reading her novels, particularly The Age of Innocence. Edith Wharton has a talent in revealing characters' forbidden love, hidden emotions and internal struggles. I would say she is very good at orchestrating her stories like the melancholy melody. The Age of Innocence is a story of social reality and restrictions. Edith Wharton artfully presented her work as a masterpiece of American classic literature!! I'd also recommend reading Tino Georgiou's bestselling novel--The Fates--if you haven't yet!
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3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Par Bunny
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Soucieux du qu'en dira-t-on, les personnages, serrés dans leurs corsets de bienséance, n'osent pas agir. Ils étouffent dans un monde où chaque geste est épié et commenté. Depuis le début du roman, le personnage principal, jeune homme marié à une riche héretière New Yorkaise, se découvre une passion pour une étrange femme quelque peu "bohemienne" et récemment arrivée d'Europe. Edith Wharton nous fascine par ses descriptions du caractère des hommes, leurs travers, leurs secrets inavouables dans une société criblée de préjugés. Très fin. A lire, en anglais, si possible.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 the age of innocence 20 juillet 2013
Par sniezyca
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Excellent livre, surprenante et audacieuse analyse de la société de XIX sciècle, l'histoire très universelle et plutôt moderne. A conseiller vivement.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 étoiles sur 5  366 commentaires
182 internautes sur 183 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Passion and the outsider 14 février 2010
Par E. A Solinas - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
It was a glittering, sumptuous time when hypocrisy was expected, discreet infidelity tolerated, and unconventionality ostracized.

That is the Gilded Age, and nobody knew its hypocrises better than Edith Wharton.... and nobody portrayed them as well. "The Age of Innocence" is a trip back in time to the stuffy upper crust of "old New York," taking us through one respectable man's hopeless love affair with a beautiful woman -- and the life he isn't brave enough to have.

Newland Archer, of a wealthy old New York family, has become engaged to pretty, naive May Welland. But as he tries to get their wedding date moved up, he becomes acquainted with May's exotic cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska, who has returned home after dumping her cheating husband. At first, the two are just friends, but Newland becomes more and more entranced by the Countess' easy, free-spirited European charm.

After Newland marries May, the attraction to the mysterious Countess and her free, unconventional life becomes even stronger. He starts to rebel in little ways, but he's still mired in a 100% conventional marriage, job and life. Will he become an outcast and go away with the beautiful countess, or will he stick with May and the safe, dull life that he has condemned in others?

There's nothing too scandalous about "Age of Innocence" in a time when starlets acquire and discard boyfriends and husbands like old pantyhose -- it probably wasn't in the 1920s when it was first published. But then, this isn't a book about sexiness and steam -- it's part bittersweet romance, part social satire, and a look at what happens when human beings lose all spontaneity and passion.

Part of this is due to Wharton's portrayal of New York in the 1870s -- opulent, cultured, pleasant, yet so tied up in tradition that few people in it are able to really open up and live. It's a haze of ballrooms, gardens, engagements, and careful social rituals that absolutely MUST be followed, even if they have no meaning. It's a place "where the real thing was never said or done or even thought."

And Wharton writes distant, slightly mocking prose that outlines this sheltered little society. Her writing opens as slowly and beautifully as a rosebud, letting subtle subplots and powerful, hidden emotions drive the story. So don't be discouraged by the endless conversations about flowers, ballrooms, gloves and old family scandals that don't really matter anymore.

In the middle of all this, Newland is a rather dull, intelligent young man who thinks he's unconventional. But he becomes more interesting as he struggles between his conscience and his longing for the Countess. And as "Age of Innocence" winds on, you gradually see that he doesn't truly love the Countess, but what she represents -- freedom from society and convention.

The other two angles of this love triangle are May and Ellen. May is (suitably) pallid and rather dull, though she shows some different sides in the last few chapters. And Ellen is a magnificent character -- alluring, mysterious, but also bewildered by New York's hostility to her ways. And she's even more interesting when you realize that she isn't trying to rebel, but simply being herself.

"Age of Innocence" is a subtle look at life in Gilded Age New York, telling the story of a man desperately in love with a way of life he hasn't got the courage to pursue. Exquisite in its details, painful in its beauty.
64 internautes sur 64 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 "An atmosphere of faint implications and pale delicacies." 2 mars 2005
Par Mary Whipple - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Newland Archer, the protagonist of this ironically entitled novel set in the late nineteenth century, is a proper New York gentleman, and part of a society which adheres to strict social codes, subordinating all aspects of life to doing what is expected, which is synonymous with doing what it right. As the author remarks early in the novel, "Few things were more awful than an offense against Taste." Newland meets and marries May Welland, an unimaginative, shallow young woman whose upbringing has made her the perfect, inoffensive wife, one who knows how to behave and how to adhere to the "rules" of the society in which they live.

When Newland is reintroduced to May's cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska, who has left her husband in Europe and now wants a divorce, he finds himself utterly captivated by her independence and her willingness to risk all, socially, by flouting convention. Both Ellen and Newland are products of their upbringing and their culture, however, and they resist their feelings because of their separate social obligations. Various meetings between them suggest that their feelings are far stronger than what is obvious on the surface, and the question of whether they will finally state the obvious or act on their feelings constitutes the plot.

Wharton creates an exceptionally realistic picture of New York in the post-Civil War era, a time in which aristocrats of inherited wealth found themselves competing socially with parvenus. Her ability to show the conflict between a person's need for social acceptance and the desire for personal freedom is striking. As the various characters make their peace with their decisions--either to challenge or yield to social dictates--the novel achieves an unusual dramatic tension, subtle because of its lack of direct confrontation and powerful in its effects on individual destinies. This is, in fact, less an "age of innocence" than it is an age of social manipulation.

Wharton herself manipulates the reader--some of her best dialogues and scenes are those the characters never actually have--conversations that they imagine, confrontations which they never allow themselves to have, and resolutions which happen through inaction rather than through decision-making. Filled with acute social observations, the novel shows individuals convincing themselves that obeying social dictates is the right thing to do. Though the novel sometimes seems claustrophobic due to its limitations on action, Age of Innocence brilliantly captures the age and attitudes of the era. Mary Whipple
48 internautes sur 49 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Newland Archer, "a man to whom nothing was ever to happen." 6 mai 2005
Par Mary Whipple - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
Newland Archer, the protagonist of this ironically entitled novel set in the late nineteenth century, is a proper New York gentleman, and part of a society which adheres to strict social codes, subordinating all aspects of life to doing what is expected, which is synonymous with doing what it right. As the author remarks early in the novel, "Few things were more awful than an offense against Taste." Newland meets and marries May Welland, an unimaginative, shallow young woman whose upbringing has made her the perfect, inoffensive wife, one who knows how to behave and how to adhere to the "rules" of the society in which they live.

When Newland is reintroduced to May's cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska, who has left her husband in Europe and now wants a divorce, he finds himself utterly captivated by her freedom and her willingness to risk all, socially, by flouting convention. Both Ellen and Newland, however, are products of their upbringing and their culture, and they dutifully resist their feelings because of their separate social obligations. Various meetings between them suggest that their feelings are far stronger than what is obvious on the surface, and the question of whether either of them will finally state their feelings pervades the novel.

Wharton creates an exceptionally realistic picture of New York in the post-Civil War era, a time in which aristocrats of inherited wealth found themselves competing socially with parvenus, and social rules were changing. Her ability to show the conflict between a person's desire for freedom and his/her need for social acceptance is striking. As the various characters make their peace with their decisions--either to conform to or to challenge social dictates--the novel achieves an unusual dramatic tension, subtle because of its lack of direct confrontation and powerful in its effects on individual destinies. This is, in fact, less an "age of innocence" than it is an age of social manipulation.

Wharton herself manipulates the reader--her best dialogues are those in which the characters never actually participate--conversations that they keep to themselves, confrontations which they never allow themselves to have, and resolutions which happen through inaction rather than through decision-making. Filled with acute social observations, the novel shows individuals convincing themselves that obeying social dictates is the right thing to do. Though the novel sometimes seems to smother the reader with its limitations on action, Age of Innocence brilliantly captures the age and attitudes of the era. Mary Whipple
56 internautes sur 60 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 American Middlemarch? 11 mars 2001
Par Joanna Daneman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
This is a stunning masterpiece of American literature. Wharton reaches the heights achieved by England's George Eliot in Middlemarch. Age of Innnocence is considered one of the top 100 novels in the English language and I heartily agree. The novel is set in the Golden Age of New York high society in the 1870's. Like Middlemarch, manners and rigid conformity assure success. Love is an anomaly.
Newland Archer, rich and well-connected, is poised to marry May Welland. She is beautiful, suitable and pure. In fact she is compared to a Diana, goddess of the hunt. This is the virgin archetype, untouchable, pure and only desirable from a distance. Archer meets her scandalous cousin, the Countess Olenska. Olenska has committed the unforgivable and left her husband for another man. She is taboo. She is also older, wiser and sexual (more taboos.) Archer is irrestibly drawn to her and thus forms the conflict for the rest of the novel.
No one of her era writes of toxic marriages better than Wharton; she had her own tragic marriage to a man who used her fortune to set up a house for his mistress. And don't forget Wharton's equally famous novel Ethan Frome, about another toxic marriage that ends in grief.
Good news,by the way; Wharton's home in Lennox, MA, the Mount, is being restored. It's home to a resident theater that does some brilliant Shakespeare. If you have a chance to go, do so. It's a wonderful experience.
41 internautes sur 43 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Stirring Social Commentary 1 novembre 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I am a college student with a plethora of essays to write, tests to study for, and books to read (most of which I honestly don't have time to finish); but many a task were set aside and the fluorescent light in my dorm room burned late into the night as I was drawn into Edith Wharton's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Age of Innocence. I was enticed by every one of Wharton's characters and the settings they so splendidly occupy. In the first scene, we are not only introduced to the central characters of the novel, but also to Wharton's keen insight on New York high society in the 1870's; they are a people who "dreaded scandal more than disease," and "want to get away from amusement ever more quickly than they want to get to it." We meet and are immediately attracted to the young and intelligent Newland Archer, who is admiring from afar his fiancé-to-be at the New York Opera. Both Archer and his love, May Welland, are of the highest class and make the most fitting couple (as is to be expected). But as Archer is studying May's purity and imagining their wedded bliss, he notices the entrance of a scandalously clad young woman into May's opera box. [Insert dramatic music] The appearance of Countess Olenska (May's cousin) triggers gasps and rumors from the observant, and introduces the central and ensuing conflicts of the novel: non-conformity versus docile submission, passionate love versus restraint and responsibility. In The Age of Innocence, Wharton presents a dichotomy of characters that we are compelled to identify with. She submits a moral dilemma that she purposefully neglects to resolve. My passionate, impulsive side yearned for Archer to forget any and all promises he had made, to forget the shame that he would bring upon his and May's family, and just escape with Countess Olenska from the stiff New York society forced upon him. But my reasonable, more stable side knew that this would only have tragic results for all involved. But should he endure a life of tedium just to keep up appearances? Was it in fact a life if tedium, or did it prove fruitful in the end? These are all quandaries left for Wharton's audience to sort through and decide for themselves. I love The Age of Innocence; Wharton paints a lucid portrait of a society I was unfamiliar with but now feel inexplicably linked to; of a people who were consciously blinded by a rigid stratum of etiquette and propriety. I am grateful to live in a much more liberated time, where my every word and action isn't scrutinized by an entire city. But I couldn't help but be enthralled and enchanted by the gas lit streets, the majestic ballrooms, and the other charming aspects of old New York. The Age of Innocence is one of the best social commentaries I have ever read, and I recommend it to all.
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