Edith Wharton: Traveller in the Land of Letters by Janet Beer Goodwyn

By Janet Beer Goodwyn

'...in this research, Goodwyn units the traditional for Wharton criticism.' - Judith E. Funston, American Literature 'Janet Goodwyn units out, through Wharton's appropriation of other cultures, to nail the 'canard' that she used to be 'but a light imitator of Henry James' - Hermione Lee, instances Literary complement `The Land of Letters used to be henceforth to be my kingdom and that i gloried in my new citizenship'. So Edith Wharton defined her elation upon the e-book of her first selection of brief tales; her nationality was once henceforth `writer' and as such she moved very easily among landscapes, among cultures and among genres within the telling of her stories. during this acclaimed examine of Wharton's paintings, the dialogue is formed through her use of particular landscapes and her constant challenge with principles of position: the American's position within the Western international, the woman's position in her personal and in eu society, and the author's position within the higher lifetime of a tradition. Her landscapes, either genuine and metaphorical, supply constitution and element to the person texts and to the total physique of her paintings.

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Extra resources for Edith Wharton: Traveller in the Land of Letters

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To Florence and Venice his little volumes gave a meaning, a sense of organic relation, which no other books attainable for me at that time could possibly have conveyed' 33 - it is then possible to move onto an independent view. It was such an independent view which had led her personally, against expert advice, to the discovery of the mis-dating and consequent neglect of some terra-cotta statues of the Passion in the monastery of San Vivaldo, 'the rare sensation of an artistic discovery made in the heart of the most carefully-explored artistic hunting-ground of Europe', 34 in the chapter 'A Tuscan Shrine' which forms the centre-piece of Italian Backgrounds.

32 The 'foreground', the province of the guidebook, is seen to contain the museum pieces to which there is a set, learned response. This is not to say, however, that in order to avoid classification as a mechanised 'sight-seer' one's approach as a tourist must be divorced from 'tradition', only 'detached'. The conventions she discusses are those of the outsider trained in the skill of studying the alien culture through the representative artefact, and, for the American audience she assumes, this museum-trained mode of apprehension is perhaps all that is possible at first.

As I have already mentioned she was distressed by America's early reluctance to become involved in the fighting - although this did not prevent her from feeling that Henry James had gone too far when he decided to become a British citizen in the summer of 1915- and in The Marne she lampoons the brightly superior tone of some of her compatriots: They found New York- Mrs Belknap's New York- buzzing with 50 Edith Wharton: Traveller in the Land of Letters war charities, yet apparently unaware of the war ....

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