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L'edat de la innocència (2008)

de Edith Wharton

Altres autors: Mira la secció altres autors.

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaConverses / Mencions
12,232275402 (4.02)5 / 1082
An elegant portrait of desire and betrayal in Old New York. In the highest circle of New York social life during the 1870's, Newland Archer, a young lawyer, prepares to marry the docile May Welland. Before their engagement is announced, he meets May's cousin, the mysterious, nonconformist Countess Ellen Olenska, who has returned to New York after a long absence. Archer's world is always changing.… (més)
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    Jane Eyre de Charlotte Brontë (readerbabe1984)
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    The American de Henry James (2below)
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1920s (48)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 275 (següent | mostra-les totes)
The work presents a picture of upper-class New York society in the late 19th century. The story is presented as a kind of anthropological study of this society through references to the families and their activities as tribal. Winner of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the novel was written in the fragmented aftermath of the First World War, which Edith Wharton experienced first-hand in Paris.

Newland Archer, the ambivalent protagonist, represents the apogee of good breeding. He is the ultimate insider in post-Civil War New York society. Although engaged to May Welland, a beautiful and proper fellow member of elite society, he is attracted to the free-spirited Countess Ellen Olenska, May’s cousin and a former member of their circle who has been living in Europe but has left her husband, a cruel Polish nobleman, under mysterious circumstances and returned to her family’s New York milieu. His upcoming marriage to the young socialite will unite two of New York’s oldest families, but from the novel’s opening pages, Olenska imports a passionate intensity and mysterious Old World eccentricity that disrupt the conventional world of order-obsessed New York. Ellen’s hopes of being set free from her past are dashed when she is forced to choose between conformity and exile, while Newland’s appointment by the Welland family as Ellen’s legal consultant begins an emotional entanglement the force of which he could never have imagined.

Drawing on the distinct observational style of anthropology, then a burgeoning science, Wharton narrates a romance doomed by duty in 1870s "Old New York." Though Wharton’s is a critical eye, mindful of the suffering often inflicted by the unimaginative, oppressive enforcement of arbitrary mores, the equation of greater liberty with unqualified happiness does not go unquestioned. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Jan 19, 2022 |
*** ITA/ENG ***
Innanzitutto, faccio i miei complimenti a Elizabeth Klett per la sua lettura in LibreVox, resta una delle mie narratrici preferite!

La storia è una di quelle sempre attuali: Ellen (madame Olenska), fugge dal marito violento e ritorna a vivere con i propri parenti, al prezzo di una difficile convivenza con il loro bigottismo.

Si innamora del giovane Archer, un giovane di belle speranze che considera le donne ben più che bamboline senza cervello, ma non ha il coraggio di sfidare le convenzioni e si adegua a sposare la più 'accettabile' cugina di Ellen, Mary (che comunque si dimostra molto più di un 'banale' terzo incomodo).

E' facile leggere tra le righe il simbolismo del vecchio contro il nuovo, l'innovazione contro lo status-quo, che per quanto rassicurante alla fine viene sempre stravolto, ma i personaggi sono abbastanza sviluppati da superare la mera allegoria e permettere di immergersi nel romanzo con gusto.

First of all, kudos to Elizabeth Klett for her reading, she is one of my favourite LibreVox narrators.

I liked this novel, it's one of those stories that never gets old, in some aspects.

Ellen (Madame Olenska) is a young woman who struggles to find her place among her bigoted relatives, after not wanting to bend to her husband's abusive behavior and his dubious 'repenting'.

Archer is a young man engaged to be married to Ellen's cousin, Mary, and the only one among his peers to think, and to think it seriously, that a woman has a right for freedom and auto-determination. Only, he is not strong enough to openly defy society for this belief (rings any bell?).

I found myself bleeding for poor Mary as well, so underrated, but full perception and good sense, who gave Archer a way out when the wedding could be stopped, and then found herself married to a man that loved another woman.

While it's clear the metaphor of old vs new and the progress that will inexorably upset the reassuring status-quo, the characters are well developed enough to not be a simple allegory. ( )
  JaqJaq | Jan 7, 2022 |
For more than 20 years Henry James suggested to Edith Wharton to write about the social circles she grew up in. DO NEW YORK, he told her. When finally she did, she produced The age of innocence, about, in American upper-class parlance "Old New York", the upper crust oldest and wealthiest families or the "Old Money" families in New York, the Rockefellers of the 19th century.

The age of innocence is about the moral values of these Old Families. The moral dilemma in this novel is the same as that in James's The portrait of a lady, published 30 years earlier, but Wharton's style is much lighter, and the treatment of this theme much more frivolous.

Countess Olenska is a still young American woman, who left the US to get married to a Polish Count. Unhappy in her marriage she shows up in New York, in an attempt to return her family in America. There she meets Newland Archer, who is engaged to get married with her cousin May Welland.

Written from the point of view of Newland, Countess Olenska is the young, exotic new belle on the block, making his newly-wed wife May look dull. It isn't until the very last part of the book that the conservative, conventional morals of Old New York, the family and all their friends become clear. A married woman should stay with her husband, no matter what.

The age of innocence is much drawn out and rather unfocussed, with its main theme not becoming fully clear until the end. It would probably have been much more forceful if it was a novella, of less than half its number of pages. ( )
1 vota edwinbcn | Jan 4, 2022 |
Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton – a 1920 novel that won the Pulitzer prize for fiction – Ms. Wharton was the first woman to win the prize.

I always keep in mind that reading is both subjective and situational. In my current “situation” (older, busy, having just read Don Quixote! Ahhhh!), I may have DNF’d this one, had it not been for an Instagram challenge.

The beginning was too tedious and a mental struggle . Too many names dropped all at once and no immediate connection to any of the characters or the society they lived in.

However, the longer I read, the more I became invested in understanding the character’s behavior within the restrictive societal convections and expectations of the 1870’s New York society that “dreaded scandal more than disease.”

They “all lived in a kind of hieroglyphic world, where the real thing was never said or done or even thought, but only represented by a set of arbitrary signs…” – this “society” was comprised of upper class white people with their own intrinsic set of acceptable behavioral rules that have in many ways trickled down to modern society. By page 14 (in my quirky edition), I had come across my second reference to “white” being preferable to anything else or more valuable: “Her hand is large (re: engagement ring) – but the skin is white.” In other words, her paleness was valued and trumped the size of her hand.

One of the things that I found interesting was how these society “rules” were in a way restrictive for both men and women of the time. Of course it has always fallen harder on women, but Newland felt just as trapped by them.


Newland feared marriage and believed women “should be free,” yet conformed and paid the price of happiness. From the beginning he saw what marriage to May would be like: “becoming what other marriages about him were: a dull association of material and social interests held together by ignorance on the one side and hypocrisy on the other.” He was not married yet, and was already mourning his freedom and feeling he “were being buried alive under his future.”

Women were seen as entrappers and how they can derail a man because of course young men cannot be at fault because they are “foolish and incalculable.” Some women “are so ensnaring and unscrupulous – that it was nothing short of a miracle to see one’s only son safe past the Siren Isle and in the haven of a blameless domesticity.” Therefore the fear of Countess Olenska and her unwillingness or inability to completely conform to their world.

In my view, May, was not very well fleshed out as a character because she was a representation of that society and how it forced both Newland and Countess Olenska to conform. Just when there might have been a chance for those two, May pulled the pregnancy card and that was that! (not quite as innocent our little May…she knew how to play the game of her society)

For a great section of the book I had my doubts about Countess Olenska and her motives. I saw her as a woman that simulated learned helplessness type behaviors and exuded vulnerability to invoke stereotypical hero complexes in men that fell over themselves to “help” her. But then I hit the part where it was obvious she was not aware they (meaning society) was sneering at her and her “foreign” behavior, the fact that she had left her husband, and the suspicions she was having affairs. She did not betray May, who did not think much of her. She did not want to destroy their lives. She left.

By the way….that part where Newland felt so asphyxiated by his marriage that he considered the notion of May being dead…and that she could “die soon” to “leave him free” while he was standing by the window had me at the end of my seat!! I for sure thought he was going to throw her out the window!! (page 136 in my book)

And the ending…well… “It’s more real to me here than if I went up” encapsulates the regret but also the acceptance of the life he lived. The longing for what was that would never match the reality of the passage of time and the different lives they lived. I will never forget this ending.


On feeling the need to be alone and in one’s own space: “I like the lithe house…the blessedness of its being here, in my own country and my own town; and then, of being alone in it.” – Countess Olenska.

On reading: The literary allusion to Middlemarch made me chuckle: Newland mentioned he “had declined three dinner invitations in favor of this feast” – we can all relate!lol ( )
  Eosch1 | Jan 2, 2022 |
The Age of Innocence explores the mores of New York society in the 1870s through the lives of Newland Archer and May Welland, who become engaged at the beginning of the novel. Newland’s world is rocked by the arrival of May’s cousin Ellen, now Madame Olenska, who recently left an unhappy marriage to a European count. Society is simultaneously shocked and fascinated by Ellen’s behavior; most feel it is her duty to return to her husband. When Ellen approaches a law firm to begin divorce proceedings, Newland is asked to intervene and convince her not to take this step. Newland is sympathetic to Ellen’s situation, and becomes obsessed with her, seeking every possible opportunity to spend time together.

Told from Newland’s point of view, it’s easy to miss the developing game of chess being played by May and her family, as they manipulate the lives of both Ellen and Newland to outcomes they consider more favorable. May and Newland’s relationship appears highly dysfunctional by modern standards, as the couple are completely unable to communicate directly with one another. But May turns out not to be as naive and oblivious as she first appears, and demonstrates surprising strength in her quiet, determined response to Newland’s behavior.

This book was my introduction to Edith Wharton many years ago. Having now read most of her novels it was time for a re-read. This is a magnificent book, right up there with The House of Mirth and The Custom of the Country. ( )
  lauralkeet | Nov 7, 2021 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 275 (següent | mostra-les totes)
A larger life and more tolerant views: That’s the greatest promise the novel holds out to us, and it’s as necessary now as it was when Edith Wharton put it into words.
afegit per danielx | editaNew York Times, Elif Batuman (Nov 1, 2019)

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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Wharton, Edithautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Auchincloss, LouisIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Bresnahan, AlyssaNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Dayne, BrendaNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Gibson, FloNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Hill, DickNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Horovitch, DavidNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Howard, MaureenIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Johnson, DianeIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Klett, ElizabethNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Lewis, R.W.B.Introduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Lively, PenelopeIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Lorna, RaverNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Merlington, LauralNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Munro, AlanNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Negri, PietroTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Orgel, StephenIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Pisani, TommasoIntroduzioneautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Quinn, Laura Dluzynskiautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Raver, LornaNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Sarah, MaryNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Shore, StephenFotògrafautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Smith, Lawrence BeallIl·lustradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Waid, CandaceIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Wolff, Cynthia GriffinIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Woodson, MatthewIl·lustradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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On a January evening of the early seventies, Christine Nilsson was singing in Faust at the Academy of Music in New York.
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And he felt himself oppressed by this creation of factitious purity, so cunningly manufactured by a conspiracy of mothers and aunts and grandmothers and long-dead ancestresses, because it was supposed to be what he wanted, what he had a right to, in order that he might exercise his lordly pleasure in smashing it like an image made of snow.
It was the old New York way of taking life" without effusion of blood": the way of people who dreaded scandal more than disease, who placed decency above courage, and who considered that nothing was more ill-bred than "scenes", except the behavior of those who gave rise to them.
When he thought of Ellen Olenska it was abstractly, serenely, as one might think of some imaginary beloved in a book or a picture: she had become the composite vision of all that he had missed.
That terrifying product of the social system he belonged to and believed in, the young girl who knew nothing and expected everything, looked back at him like a stranger through May Welland's familiar features; and once more it was borne in on him that marriage was not the safe anchorage he had been taught to think, but a voyage on uncharted seas.
"No," she acquiesced; and her tone was so faint and desolate that he felt a sudden remorse for his own hard thoughts. "The individual, in such cases, is nearly always sacrificed to what is supposed to be the collective interest: people cling to any convention that keeps the family together--protects the children, if there are any," he rambled on, pouring out all the stock phrases that rose to his lips in his intense desire to cover over the ugly reality which her silence seemed to have laid bare.
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Wikipedia en anglès (2)

An elegant portrait of desire and betrayal in Old New York. In the highest circle of New York social life during the 1870's, Newland Archer, a young lawyer, prepares to marry the docile May Welland. Before their engagement is announced, he meets May's cousin, the mysterious, nonconformist Countess Ellen Olenska, who has returned to New York after a long absence. Archer's world is always changing.

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