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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $15.50
  • December 2002
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-96794-4
  • 544 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

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    This Norton Critical Edition of Edith Wharton's celebrated novella is based on the first edition, published by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1911.

The Age of Innocence

Norton Critical Editions


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Edith Wharton (Author), Candace Waid (Editor, University of California, Santa Barbara)


The text of Wharton’s richly allusive Pulitzer Prize–winning 1921 novel of desire and its implications in Old New York has been rigorously annotated by a prominent Wharton scholar.

"Contexts" constructs the historical foundation for this very historical novel. Many documents are included on the "New York Four Hundred," elite social gatherings, archery (the sport for upper-crust daughters), as well as Wharton’s manuscript outlines, letters, and related writings.

"Criticism" collects eleven American and British contemporary reviews and nine major essays on The Age of Innocence, including a groundbreaking piece on the two film adaptations of the novel.

“A Chronology and Selected Bibliography” are also included.


    List of Illustrations



    The Text of The Age of Innocence

    Backgrounds and Contexts


    1. To Rutger B. Jewett, January 5, 1920
    2. To Bernard Berenson, December 12, 1920
    3. To Sinclair Lewis, August 6, 1921
    4. To Mary Cadwalader Jones, April 11, 1927
    5. To Mary Cadwalader Jones, February 17, 1921


    1. Candace Waid * [Biographical Note on Edith Wharton]
    2. Edith Wharton * A Little Girl’s New York
    3. Edith Wharton * From A Backward Glance
    4. [The Background]
    5. [Little Girl]
    6. R.W.B. Lewis * From Edith Wharton: A Biography
    7. [Entry into Society]
    8. [A Broken Engagement]
    9. [Marriage and Sexual Ignorance]


    1. Literary Sources
      1. Honoré de Balzac * From Contes drôlatiques
      2. Innocence
      3. The Danger of Being Too Innocent
      4. Edith Wharton * The Valley of Childish Things, and Other Emblems
      5. Edith Wharton * The New Frenchwoman
    2. Time and Money: Economic Contexts and the Shifting Narratives of Ethnic Power
      1. The Source for the Beaufort Scandal
      2. The Panic: Excitement in Wall Street * New York Times, September 19, 1873
      3. The Financial Crisis: More Failures Yesterday * New York Times, September 20, 1873
      4. Panics * The Nation, September 25, 1873
    3. The Business of Society: Contemporary Commentary on the New York Aristocracy
      1. “Secrets of Ball Giving”: A Chat with Ward McAllister
      2. Recipes for Roman Punch
      3. M.E.W. Sherwood * From Manners and Social Usages
      4. How He Came to be a Famous Ball Organizer—Reminiscences of Cotillion Dinners
      5. Beginning His Experiment at Newport
      6. Objects of the Patriarch’s Society
      7. Duplicate Invitations Presented
      8. Society’s Limits Narrowing
      9. Famous Dinners of Recent Years
      10. The Etiquette of Balls
      11. Fashionable Dancing
      12. On Serving Roman Punch
      13. Francis W. Crowninshield * From Manners for the Metropolis: An Entrance Key to the Fantastic Life of the 400
      14. Mrs. Burton Harrison * The Myth of the Four Hundred
    4. Leisure: High and Low
      1. James Maurice Thompson * The Long Bow
      2. W. Gurney Benham * [The Living Waxworks]
      3. Kate Greenaway * From Language of Flowers
      4. John H. Young * The Language of Flowers
      5. Divorce and Marriage in New York * The New York Tribune, October 7, 1883



    1. Katharine Perry * Were the Seventies Sinless?
    2. William Lyon Phelps * As Mrs. Wharton Sees Us
    3. Henry Seidel Canby * Our America
    4. Carl Van Doren * An Elder America
    5. R. D. Townshend * The Book Table: Devoted to Books and Their Makers, Novels Not
    6. for a Day
    7. Mrs. Wharton’s Novel of Old New York
    8. Vernon L. Parrington, Jr. * Our Literary Aristocrat
    9. The Age of Innocence
    10. The Innocence of New York
    11. Katherine Mansfield * Family Portraits
    12. Frederick Watson * The Assurance of Art


    1. Julia Ehrhardt * “The Read These Pages Is to Live Again”: The Historical Accuracy of
    2. The Age of Innocence
    3. Jennifer Rae Greeson * Wharton’s Manuscript Outlines for The Age of Innocence: Three Versions
    4. Cynthia Griffin Wolff * The Age of Innocence as Bildungsroman
    5. Elizabeth Ammons * Cool Diana and the Blood-Red Muse: Edith Wharton on Innocence and Art
    6. Nancy Bentley * [Realism, Relativism, and the Discipline of Manners]
    7. Anne MacMaster * Wharton, Race, and The Age of Innocence: Three Historical


    1. Dale M. Bauer * [Whiteness and the Power of Darkness in The Age of Innocence]
    2. Brian T. Edwards * The Well-Built Wall of Culture: Old New York and Its Harems
    3. Brigitte Peuker * Scorsese’s Age of Innocence: Adaptation and Intermediality

    Edith Wharton: A Chronology

    Selected Bibliography