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The Custom of the Country

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Hardcover published by Everyman's Library (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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Edith Wharton’s lacerating satire on marriage and materialism in turn-of-the-century New York features her most selfish, ruthless, and irresistibly outrageous female character.
 
Undine Spragg is an exquisitely beautiful but ferociously acquisitive young woman from the Midwest who comes to New York to seek her fortune. She achieves her social ambitions—but only at the highest cost to her family, her admirers, and her several husbands. Wharton lavished on Undine an imaginative energy that suggests she was as fascinated as she was appalled by the alluring monster she had created. It is the complexity of her attitude that makes The Custom of the Country—with its rich social and emotional detail and its headlong narrative power—one of the most fully realized and resonant of her works.

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Edith Wharton’s lacerating satire on marriage and materialism in turn-of-the-century New York features her most selfish, ruthless, and irresistibly outrageous female character.
 
Undine Spragg is an exquisitely beautiful but ferociously acquisitive young woman from the Midwest who comes to New York to seek her fortune. She achieves her social ambitions—but only at the highest cost to her family, her admirers, and her several husbands. Wharton lavished on Undine an imaginative energy that suggests she was as fascinated as she was appalled by the alluring monster she had created. It is the complexity of her attitude that makes The Custom of the Country—with its rich social and emotional detail and its headlong narrative power—one of the most fully realized and resonant of her works.

Product Details
Hardcover
Published: October 4, 1994
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Everyman's Library
ISBN: 9780679423010
Other books byEdith Wharton
  • The House of Mirth

    The House of Mirth
    ENDURING LITERATURE ILLUMINATED BY PRACTICAL SCHOLARSHIP An incisive portrait of New York high society and the somber economics of marriage during the late nineteenth century, Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth tells the story of beguiling socialite Lily Bart’s ill-fated attempt to find happiness. THIS ENRICHED CLASSIC EDITION INCLUDES: • A concise introduction that gives the reader important background information • A chronology of the author’s life and work • A timeline of significant events that provides the book’s historical context • An outline of key themes and plot points to guide the reader’s own interpretations • Detailed explanatory notes • Critical analysis and modern perspectives on the work • Discussion questions to promote lively classroom and book group interaction • A list of recommended related books and films to broaden the reader’s experience Simon & Schuster Enriched Classics offer readers affordable editions of great works of literature enhanced by helpful notes and insightful commentary. The scholarship provided in Enriched Classics enables readers to appreciate, understand, and enjoy the world’s finest books to their full potential.

    Summer

    Summer
    Summer, Edith Wharton wrote to Gaillard Lapsley, "is known to its author and her familars as the Hot Ethan." One of the first American novels to deal frankly with a young woman's sexual awakening, it was a publishing sensation when it appeared in 1917, praised by Joseph Conrad, Howard Sturgis, and Percy Lubbock, and favorably compared to Madame Bovary. Like its predecessor, Ethan Frome, it is set in the Berkshires, but the season is summer and the story is that of Charity Royall, a New Englander of humble origins -- passionate, forthright, and proud -- and her torrid affair with Lucius Harney, an artistically inclined young man from the city. A novel that "breaks, or stretches, many conventions of women's romantic love stories and in the process creates a new picture of female sexuality," as Marilyn French writes in her introduction, Summer is "a clamorous and ecstatic affirmation of the joy of sexual love no matter what it costs." Bold in conception, rich in imagery, and provocative by implication, it was one of Edith Wharton's personal favorites, and stands as one of her greatest novelistic achievements.

    The Glimpses Of The Moon

    The Glimpses Of The Moon
    Set in the 1920s, The Glimpses of the Moon details the romantic misadventures of Nick Lansing and Susy Branch, a couple with the right connections but not much in the way of funds. They devise a shrewd bargain: they'll marry and spend a year or so sponging off their wealthy friends, honeymooning in their mansions and villas. As Susy explains, "We should really, in a way, help more than hamper each other. We both know the ropes so well; what one of us didn't see the other might -- in the way of opportunities, I mean." The other part of the plan states that if either one of them meets someone who can advance them socially, they're each free to dissolve the marriage. How their plan unfolds is a comedy of eros that will charm all fans of Wharton's work.

    The Greater Inclination

    The Greater Inclination
    Webster's edition of this classic is organized to expose the reader to a maximum number of difficult and potentially ambiguous English words. Rare or idiosyncratic words and expressions are given lower priority compared to "difficult, yet commonly used" words. Rather than supply a single translation, many words are translated for a variety of meanings in French, allowing readers to better grasp the ambiguity of English, and avoid using the notes as a pure translation crutch. Having the reader decipher a word's meaning within context serves to improve vocabulary retention and understanding. Each page covers words not already highlighted on previous pages. If a difficult word is not translated on a page, chances are that it has been translated on a previous page.

Favorite QuotesFROM THIS BOOK
  • "Undine Spragg – how can you?’ her mother wailed, raising a prematurely-wrinkled hand heavy with rings to defend the note which a languid ‘bell-boy’ had just brought in.

    — submitted by Flag This Quote For Review
  • "Just so; she'd even feel aggrieved. But why? Because it's against the custom of the country. And whose fault is that? The man's again—I don't mean Ralph I mean the genus he belongs...

    — submitted by Flag This Quote For Review
  • She could never be an Ambassador's wife; and as she advanced to welcome her first guests she said to herself that it was the one part she was really made for.

    — submitted by Flag This Quote For Review
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