Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Backward Glance: An Autobiography by Edith Wharton

A Backward Glance: An Autobiography by Edith Wharton
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: 1934
Format: Paperback, 424 Pages
To Buy

"Memoirs are always suspect. People tend to remember what they want to remember; images become blurred or combined; details are rearranged. BUT. This is Edith Wharton we’re talking about. Who can resist the chance to see the New York of her childhood through her eyes, even if it might be a bit tweaked about the edges? Especially when there are lines like these: The little girl and her father walked up Fifth Avenue: the old Fifth Avenue with its double line of low brown-stone houses, of a desperate uniformity of style, broken only -- and surprisingly -- by two equally unexpected features: the fenced-in plot of ground where the old Miss Kennedys' cows were pastured, and the truncated Egyptian pyramid which so strangely served as a reservoir for New York's water supply. The Fifth Avenue of that day was a placid and uneventful thoroughfare, along which genteel landaus, broughams and victorias, and more countrified vehicles of the "carryall" and "surrey" type, moved up and down at decent intervals and a decorous pace. Wharton’s very nostalgia for that vanished world, and the way she constructed it in contrast to what came later, provided a great deal of insight into the culture wars between old and new that are a major theme in the background of The English Wife. And now that we’ve had two Wharton-related books in a row, let’s just move right on past those fifteen other Wharton books on my shelves...." - Lauren Willig

The official patter:
"Edith Wharton, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, vividly reflects on her public and private life in this stunning memoir.

With richness and delicacy, it describes the sophisticated New York society in which Wharton spent her youth, and chronicles her travels throughout Europe and her literary success as an adult. Beautifully depicted are her friendships with many of the most celebrated artists and writers of her day, including her close friend Henry James.

In his introduction to this edition, Louis Auchincloss calls the writing in A Backward Glance “as firm and crisp and lucid as in the best of her novels.” It is a memoir that will charm and fascinate all readers of Wharton’s fiction."


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