Edith Wharton (1862-1937)

A selective list of online literary criticism for the American novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and autobiographer, Edith Wharton, favoring signed articles by recognized scholars and articles from peer-reviewed sources


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introduction & biography

Ammons, Elizabeth. "Edith Wharton." A brief introduction and biography for Wharton. From The Heath Anthology of American Literature.

"Edith Wharton and the Gilded Age Writers: The Age of Innocence." Includes a two and a half hour video covering the history of the Gilded Age through the writings of Edith Wharton, also teaching resources for Wharton. C-Span, American Writers, 30 July 2001.

"Edith Wharton's World." A biographical sketch of Edith Wharton, told through a series an of paintings and art related to her, from the Smithsonian Museum.

Preston, Claire. "Edith Wharton." An introduction to Wharton from the Literary Encyclopedia [subscription service].

Wolff, Cynthia Griffin. A Feast of Words: The Triumph of Edith Wharton (1977). A biography of Wharton [the complete book is available through this subscription service].

The Edith Wharton Society. More content-rich and up-to-date than many author society web sites, this includes summaries of recent books on Wharton, extensive bibliographies of Wharton criticism, a Wharton chronology, news, and a well-selected list of web sites for Edith Wharton.


literary criticism & teaching guides

Ammons, Elizabeth, ed. "Edith Wharton." A guide to Edith Wharton for teachers: classroom strategies, Wharton's themes, historical perspectives, and more. From textbook publisher Heath.

Bell, Millicent. "Edith Wharton and Henry James: The Literary Relation." Article that preceeded Prof. Bell's important 1965 book, Edith Wharton & Henry James: The Story of Their Friendship. PMLA 74, 5 (Dec. 1959) pp 619-37 [preview of article only].

Emmert, Scott. "Drawing-Room Naturalism in Edith Wharton's Early Short Stories." Journal of the Short Story in English 39 (Autumn 2002) [trans. from French].

Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. "From The Children to The Marriage Playground and back again: Filmic readings of Edith Wharton," Literature/Film Quarterly (1999).

Jacobsen, Karen J. "Economic hauntings: wealth and class in Edith Wharton's ghost stories." College Literature 35, 1 (Winter 2008) pp 100-127 [summary of article only].

MacNaughton, William R. "The artist as moralist: Edith Wharton's revisions to the Last Chapter of The Custom of the Country." Papers on Language and Literature 37, 1 (Winter 2001) [subscription service, with other scholarly articles on Wharton available through this page].

Martin, Robert K. "Ages of Innocence: Edith Wharton, Henry James, and Nathaniel Hawthorne." To examine the nature of Henry James's influence on Wharton, Martin considers Wharton's The Age of Innocence (1920) as a response to James's The Europeans (1878). The Henry James Review 21, 1 (Winter 2000) pp 56-62 [preview of article only].

Menon, Pat."'Beings of Different Language': Pragmatist meets Idealist in Edith Wharton's The Reef." Menon discusses Wharton's use of her personal experience in The Reef: "One way of understanding The Reef, then, is as the distillation of the personal into the impersonal." Also, Emsley, Sarah. "Sexual Purity and Relentless Indecision in Wharton's The Reef." The New Compass 2 (December 2003) and 3 (June 2004).

Olin-Ammentorp, Julie. "'Not Precisely War Stories': Edith Wharton's Short Fiction from the Great War" ["Coming Home" (1915), "The Refugees" (1919), and "Writing a War Story" (1919)]. Studies in American Fiction 23 (1995) [subscription service].

Rich, Charlotte. "Fictions of Colonial Anxiety: Edith Wharton's 'The Seed of the Faith' and 'A Bottle of Perrier.'" Journal of the Short Story in English 39 (Autumn 2002) pp 59-74.

Salas, Angela M. "Ghostly presences: Edith Wharton's Sanctuary and the issue of maternal sacrifice." Salas defends Wharton's 1903 novella Sanctuary. College Literature (Spring 1998).

Schwarztrauber, Helmut. "A writer is dependent on his milieu: The Romancer Disinherited" [Wharton's story "Souls Belated"]. EESE (Aug. 2003).

Totten, Gary. "Critical Reception and Cultural Capital: Edith Wharton as a Short Story Writer." Totten considers the implications of Wharton's inability to get her short stories published in her own day. Pedagogy 8, 1 (Winter 2008) pp 115-33 [first page of article only].

Waid, Candace. Edith Wharton's Letters from the Underworld: Fictions of Women and Writing (U North Carolina P 1991) [the complete book is available through this subscription service].


web sites

"Critical Responses to 'The Other Two.'" Also "Critical Responses to Edith Wharton's 'Roman Fever.'" Summaries of major critical responses to two of Wharton's frequently taught short stories; the summaries were presumably written by students. Edith Wharton Society.

The Mount, Wharton's home in Lenox, Massachusetts, which is now a museum.


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