A Historical Guide to Edith Wharton provides scholarly and general readers with historical contexts that illuminate Wharton's life and writing in new, exciting ways. The essays in this volume expand our sense of Wharton as a velist of manners and reflect the latest developments in new historicism and cultural studies. Like many other literary women, Edith Wharton overcame prejudice to enter the world of letters. Wharton stood at the historical crossroads between the literary models of sentimental lady writer and modern professional author, and her work navigates accordingly between Victorian and modern sensibilities. Writing at a time of great social and ecomic change, Wharton records the changes brought about by Darwinism, urbanization, capitalism, feminism, world war, and eugenics, converying these cultural transformations with unforgettable detail and realism. This compelling collection of original essays illuminates Edith Wharton's vivid and incisive fiction against the backdrop of old New York, bringing one of our most important American velists to life within the context of the society she so memorably chronicled and confronted.
Carol J. Singley is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University-Camden. She is a past president of the Edith Wharton Society.