The Age of Innocence is Edith Wharton’s most famous novel, an enduring classic of Old New York that has been rediscovered by a new generation.
What is it about this story of Newland Archer, May Welland and Countess Olenska that readers respond to today?
Noted Wharton scholar Dr. Emily Orlando joins Carl Raymond on The Gilded Gentleman podcast to delve into the background of this novel, take a deep dive into the personalities of the major characters and discuss what Wharton wanted to say in her masterpiece.
When the novel came out in 1920, she had been living in France full-time for nearly 10 years and had seen the devastating effects of World War I up close.
Her response was to look back with a sense of nostalgia to the time of her childhood to recreate that staid, restrictive world of New York in the 1870s. A world that, despite its restrictive, social cruelty, seemed to have some kind of moral center (at least to her).
But it was a world in which Wharton, as a creative woman, could not live and work in. And so she transferred her life in stages to France.
Listen today: The Age of Innocence with Dr. Emily Orlando
Orlando in front of Edith Wharton’s residence