Collected Stories, Volume 1: 1891-1910
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Born into an upper-class New York family, Edith Wharton broke with convention and became a professional writer, earning an enduring place as the grande dame of American letters. This Library of America collection (along with its companion volume, Collected Stories: 1911-1937) presents the finest of Wharton's achievement in short fiction, drawn from the more than eighty stories she published over the course of her career.
Opening with her first published story—the charming "Mrs. Manstey's View," about a disruption in the life of an elderly apartment-dweller—this first of two volumes presents a writer, already at the height of her powers, beginning to explore the concerns of a lifetime. In "Souls Belated," two lovers attempt to escape the consequences of their adultery—a subject to which Wharton returns throughout her career. In "The Mission of Jane" (about a remarkable adopted child) and "The Pelican" (about an itinerant lecturer), she discovers her gift for social and cultural satire. Perhaps the finest of her ghost stories, "The Eyes," with its Jamesian sense of evil, is also included, along with two novella-length works, "The Touchstone" and "Sanctuary," revealing the dazzling range of Wharton's fictive imagination.
Also included in this edition are a chronology of Wharton's life, explanatory notes, and an essay on the texts.
mourning, he came upon her almost startlingly, with a revival of some long-effaced impression which, for a moment, gave her the sense of struggling among shadows. She did not, at first, know what had produced the effect; then she saw that it was his likeness to his father. “Well—is it over?” she asked, as he threw himself into a chair without speaking. “Yes: I’ve looked through everything.” He leaned back, crossing his hands behind his head, and gazing past her with a look of utter lassitude.
initiated, they would know at once: and however long a face he pulled his colleagues would see the tongue in his cheek. Meanwhile it fortunately happened that, even if the book should achieve the kind of triumph prophesied by Harviss, it would not appreciably injure its author’s professional standing. Professor Linyard was known chiefly as a microscopist. On the structure and habits of a certain class of coleoptera he was the most distinguished living authority; but none save his intimate friends
curtains; and the confidant of her tenderer musings was the church-spire floating in the sunset. One April day, as she sat in her usual place, with knitting cast aside and eyes fixed on the blue sky mottled with round clouds, a knock at the door announced the entrance of her landlady. Mrs. Manstey did not care for her landlady, but she submitted to her visits with ladylike resignation. To-day, however, it seemed harder than usual to turn from the blue sky and the blossoming magnolia to Mrs.
eh?” “Oh, no.” Mrs. Fetherel hesitated. “I’m going simply to please my uncle,” she said, at last. “Your uncle?” “The Bishop, you know.” She smiled. “The Bishop—the Bishop of Ossining? Why, wasn’t he the chap who made that ridiculous attack on your book? Is that prehistoric ass your uncle? Upon my soul, I think you’re mighty forgiving to travel all the way to Ossining for one of his stained-glass sociables!” Mrs. Fetherel’s smiles flowed into a gentle laugh. “Oh, I’ve never allowed that to
Rome. But in spite of these dark teachings they were a mild and merciful folk, full of loving-kindness toward poor persons and wayfarers; so that she grieved for them when one day a Dominican monk appeared with a company of soldiers, seizing some of the weavers and dragging them to prison, while others, with their wives and babes, fled to the winter woods. She fled with them, fearing to be charged with their heresy, and for months they lay hid in desert places, the older and weaker, when they