Student Queries: 2000

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Student Queries 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000  

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  • Edith Wharton's Poetry (X)
  • The Greater Inclination
  • Ending of The House of Mirth: What was the word? (X)
  • Edith Wharton and Weddings in Fiction (X)
  • Age of Innocence: Film and Book Versions (X)
  • Custom of the Country Film and
  • Edith Wharton and Henry James (X)
  • "Roman Fever" and "The Other Two"(X)
  • Marriage 
  • Information on The Custom of the Country(X)
  • Edith Wharton and Italy
  • Finding Online Articles on Ethan Frome (X)
  • Conformity and Social Climbing (X)
  • Edith Wharton's Novels and the Theme of Money (X)
  • Title of House of Mirth: A Possible Error in Published Criticism (X)
  • Custom of the Country Topics: Information Requested
  • Source of Edith Wharton Quotation on Woman's Nature as a House Full of Rooms
  • Queries Replies (Use the Reply Form)
    Edith Wharton's Poetry

    NAME: Lisa Mezzani

    QUESTION: I'm about to start working on my final college paper, which should deal with the first verses and poetry written by Edith Wharton. As I'm familiar  only with her novels, I would like to know whether
    these works have been collected and published.
    Any information on E.W.'s first poems will be greatly appreciated. 

    There was a discussion about this not too long ago on the Edith Wharton list; the archive for the discussion is at

    There's also information (the same information) on the Queries 1999 page


    Artemis to Actaeon and Other Verse should be available in libraries; it's a reprint version of Wharton's published poems. 
    An essay on Wharton's poems is available in Alfred Bendixen and Annette Zilversmit's collection of essays on Wharton (1992).

    Good luck with your project.
    D. Campbell

    The Greater Inclination
     Hello,      I am going to write an essay on Edith Wharton's "The Greater Inclination"(I took a course entitled The American Short Story).
    The purpose of this essay is to look at how Wharton's early collection of short stories fits in with the rest of her (later) work.
    So far, I have only been able to find some information on "The Pelican" and it seems there is not much written about the collection as a whole.
    I would like to know if there are any books/links that discuss "The Greater Inclination" as an significant work of literature by Wharton.
    I would greatly appreciate your help.

    Best regards,

    Mirjana van Zeijderveld

    Note: This question has been reposted from the Queries page because it is a common question about the novel. --D. Campbell

    From: laura canis <>
    House of Mirth ending

    Hello, I just finished reading House of Mirth.  What a book.  What are your ideas on the "word" that Lawrence was coming to tell Lily on the morning of her death?  What could it be?  I'm dying to know!
    Thanks, Laura Canis  (3/20/00)

    This question generated so many responses that they have been placed on a separate page, "The Ending of The House of Mirth."
    Weddings in Edith Wharton's Fiction
    From: Gina Colagiovanni <>

    Hello.  My name is Gina.  I am currently in a graduate course that is
    studying authors, such as Edith Wharton, as well as the the time period of late 1800's and early 1900's.  I have chosen to write a paper regarding weddings from this time period.  I am having a difficult time finding facts about what a wedding would have looked like at this time.  If you have any information at all (web sites, book titles, magazines)it would be very helpful to me.  Thanks very much!


    One book that may be helpful to you is this one from the Recommended Books list. The annotation is from that list, too.

    Montgomery, Maureen E.  Displaying Women: Spectacles of Leisure in Edith Wharton's New York.  New York: Routledge, 1998.  More a treatment of  Wharton's cultural context than a close reading of her fiction, but a valuable resource for anyone interested in the New York of 1870 to 1920.

    Montgomery uses a number of primary sources in her discussion, so the bibliography as well as the text of the book would probably be helpful to you.  Good luck with your project. --D. Campbell 

    Age of Innocence: Film and Book

    I am a university student who has to do a paper on the Age of Innocence on the following subject. "By what methods do the film and the novel create atmosphere? How does the atmosphere of each contribute to the audience's sense of what the title means?" (We are studying the 1990s film)I am at a lost to find information to back up my ideas. If anyone could help it would be greatly appreciated. 
    Nicole Yule

    The bibliographies at the EWS site include these articles, which may be useful to you:
    Helmetag, Charles H. "Recreating Edith Wharton's New York in Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence." Literature/ Film Quarterly
    26.3 (1998): 162-65. 

    Marshall, Scott. "Edith Wharton on Film and Television: A History and Filmography." Edith Wharton Review 13.2 (1996): 15-26. 

    Peucker, Brigitte. "Rival Arts? Filming The Age of Innocence." Edith Wharton Review 13.1 (1996): 19-22. 

    D. Campbell

    Custom of the Country Film and Edith Wharton and Henry James

    This year, we are studying "The custom of the country" and I would like to know if there is a film version of this work. Also, Edith Wharton was said to be very close to Henry James, do you think we can find links or is there any allusions to one of Henry James'works? At least, have there been studies about similarities in attitude in Wharton's or James' heroines?          Olivia Navarro

    According to the Internet Movie Database, there hasn't been a movie made of  The Custom of the Country.

    A great deal has been written about Edith Wharton's friendship with Henry James and the effect that this had on their work.  You might try any of the biographies on the Recommended Works page at

    A good source is Millicent Bell's Edith Wharton and Henry James: A Story of their Friendship.

    D. Campbell 9/28/00 

    "Roman Fever" and "The Other Two" 
    I am doing a critical analysis paper on Edith Wharton's "The Other Two' and "Roman Fever". I was wondering if you knew of any resources that that critique either of those two works? If so could you please respond to me promptly. I thank you in advance for doing so. Have a great day!

                                                    Tim Caulder 

    Many of the books on the Recommended Bibliography list contain analyses of these two stories. 

    Here are two books that focus on the short stories: 

    White, Barbara A. Edith Wharton: A Study of the Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne, 1991. 

    Fracasso Evelyn E. Edith Wharton's Prisoners of Consciousness : A Study of Theme and Technique in the Tales  Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1994.

    You could also check these books for suggestions:

    Lauer, Kristin, and Margaret Murray, eds.  Edith Wharton: A Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1989. 

    Wright, Sarah Bird.Edith Wharton A to Z: The Essential Guide to the Life and Work. New York: Facts on File, 1998. 

    Here are some of the resources listed for both works at the Wharton Society site and elsewhere. Suggestions for obtaining these are available on the Frequently Asked Questions page.

    • Berkove, Lawrence I. "'Roman Fever': A Mortal Malady." CEA Critic 56.2 (1994): 56-60. 
    • Sweeney, Susan Elizabeth. "Edith Wharton's Case of Roman Fever." Wretched Exotic: Essays onEdith Wharton in Europe. Eds. Katherine Joslin and Alan Price. American University Studies XXIV:American Literature (AmLit), New York, NY. Series No: 53. New York: Peter Lang, 1993. 313-31. 
    • Petry, Alice Hall. "A Twist of Scarlet Silk: Edith Wharton's 'Roman Fever.'" Studies in Short Fiction 24, no. 2 (1987): 163-166 
    • Mortimer, Armine Kotin. "Romantic Fever: The Second Story as Illegitimate Daughter in Wharton's 'Roman Fever'." Narrative 6.2 (1998): 188-98. 
    • Inverso, Mary Beth. "Performing Women: Semiotic Promiscuity in 'The Other Two'." Edith Wharton

    • Review 10.1 (1993): 3-6. 
    The Custom of the Country
    I'm working on this novel and would like to have some information on it
    (critics, etc...) Thanks
    It's best to do your research and check the resources in your library first before posting a general question to a discussion list; otherwise, the information may not address your needs.  There's a short bibliography on this novel available at the following address  (10/15/00)

    Edith Wharton and Italy.
    I'm an Italian student.I'm studying languages at university, I'd like to write my graduation thesis on Edith Wharton and her success in Italy. I'm especially interested in critical comments or conferences about this subject. I'm also interested in finding material concerning E.Wharton and Italy in general. I thank right now all the people that want to help me.
    Thank you.           daniela Reolon 
    Critical Reviews on Ethan Frome

    QUESTION:  I really need some help. I just read the book Ethan Frome and it was a great book but now I am a little stuck. I have to write a 5 page summary/review of the book using critical reviews from PHD's online but I can not find even one. If anyone can help please email me and your help is needed greatly. Thanx in advance! 


    There probably won't be critical reviews online from Ph.D.'s in most disciplines, because most college and university professors in the humanities publish their work in print journals.  Unlike most web pages, each article that's published in a journal has to go through a process called "peer review" in which other scholars read the work and decide whether it is worth publishing or not. Although scholars are not paid for the publication of their work in academic journals, their reputations depend on having their work reviewed by their peers, and most Wharton scholars, at least, would be reluctant to put their work on the web until it has appeared in print. Some scholars do put their work on the web after it has been published. 

    Although there are some peer-reviewed journals on the web, general essays on the web (at least in American literature) are usually not yet as highly regarded as those that appear in print, though there are exceptions. If a web journal is peer-reviewed, it will say so, and it will probably charge a fee.

    Some sources on the web do reprint articles from reputable journals, however.  If you are a college or university student and your library subscribes to UnCover, Expanded Academic Index, ProQuest, Project Muse, or another such service, you will be able to find the articles you seek. 

    If you are not affiliated with a college or university, you can also do a search at a commercial site such as, which provides articles from reputable journals like Studies in American Fiction for prices ranging from $1 to $4 apiece.  Northernlight has several articles on Edith Wharton available, although I don't recall whether those are on Ethan Frome.
     --D. Campbell  11/2/00

    Conformity and Social Climbing in The Custom of the Country

    QUESTION: I have an essay to do on The Custom of the Country.The subject is:"conformism and social climbing" or in French:"conformisme et arrivisme".Can you help me? 

    Hi,my name is Lyace and I'm studying English in France.This year The Custom of the Country is on the syllabus,and I have an essay to do on "conformism and social climbing" (or in French "conformisme et arrivisme").I have found many sources but the problem is that I can't find a good plan (we're not allowed to write one part on conformism and another one on social climbing).Could you help me please?
    Thank you very much!!

    Your teacher will be the best source for finding out how the paper could
    be structured.  One way might be to look at how "conformism" is related to
    social climbing: must one conform in order to succeed at social
    climbing?  You might look at specific instances of this in the text. 


    Edith Wharton and the Theme of Money 

    QUESTION: I'm writing a short paper on the underlying theme of money that appears in many of Wharton's works. I will be focusing especially on how her work can be viewed as an allegory for the economic change around the country that led to the market crash in '29.  I'd love if anyone could point me in the direction of criticisms that address money in her novels, especially Custom of the Country, Old New York, Glimpses of the Moon, or the House of Mirth.
     Thanks so much! 

    Jessica Marsden

    Many of the books on Wharton address this issue.  There is a short bibliography of works derived from the MLA Bibliography on this issue at 
    House of Mirth: Did the Serial have the Same Title?
    QUESTION: I am having trouble reconciling the chronology of Wayne Westerbrook's "HoM and the Insurance Scandal of 1905" (Am.Notes&Q,May 76, p. 134-7) with HoM publishing history.  Westerbrook argues that EW availed herself of the topicality of the phrase "House of Mirth" from the 1905 scandal, which he dates early in that year, HoM appearing in book form later.

    However, HoM appeared in Scribner's Mag. beginning in January, 1905, did it not?  Was it not titled House of Mirth then?  If so, then Westerbrook has the cart before the horse. 

    Elucidation would be much appreciated.

    My paper, by the way, is on gambling in HoM.

    Mike Skupin


    You're right--The House of Mirth began its serial run in Scribner's in January 1905, and it was called The House of Mirth.  Wharton had not yet finished writing the book (Benstock 149), but this was the experience that she said later taught her the value of the "discipline of the daily task" and turned her into a professional writer.

    Although the work had had different working titles, most famously "A Moment's Ornament," the current title was already in use in 1905. 
    --D. Campbell

    Note: If readers of this page know the date at which EW changed her title from "A Moment's Ornament" to the current one (which, as many have noted, is from Ecclesiastes 7:4: "The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth."), please add that information to this page. 

    Custom of the Country Topics
    QUESTION: I'd like some information about the following topics:
    - the market
    - the deal 
    - the deal
    - the marriage
    - the mirror
    - the excess
    - the social classes
    in "The Custom Of The Country" Edith wharton
    Thank you 
    NAME: Nathalie
    Information on these topics is available in the articles listed in the bibliography on The Custom of the Country at

    Other readers of this page may respond with more specific suggestions; if you would like to reply, please add your information to this page. 

    Source of Wharton Quotation on Woman's Nature and Rooms
    NAME: Rachel
    QUESTION: I cannot seem to find the entire quote by Edith Wharton referring to the "rooms" of a woman's personality.  All I can remember is the ending of the quote: "...and in the innermost room...the holiest of holies...the soul sits alone and waits for the footsteps that never come."
    Does anyone know what this is from -- short story? novel? comment to a friend?
    -- and where I can find it?  (12/1/00) 
    This is from "The Fulness of Life" (part II) (December 1893) and is available online in the Early Stories of Edith Wharton, vol. 2. In the story, a woman dies and reflects on her marriage as she talks about her life with the Spirit of Life.  Here is the relevant passage from the story:

    "You have hit upon the exact word; I was fond of him, yes, just as I was fond of my grandmother, and the house that I was born in, and my old nurse.  Oh, I was fond of him, and we were counted a very happy couple.  But I have sometimes thought that a woman's nature is like a great house full of rooms: there is the hall, through which everyone passes in going in and out; the drawing- room, where one receives formal visits; the sitting-room, where the members of the family come and go as they list; but beyond that, far beyond, are other rooms, the handles of whose doors perhaps are never turned; no one knows the way to them, no one knows whither they lead; and in the innermost room, the holy of holies, the soul sits alone and waits for a footstep that never comes."

    "And your husband," asked the Spirit, after a pause, "never got beyond the family sitting-room?"

    "Never," she returned, impatiently; "and the worst of it was that he was quite content to remain there.  He thought it perfectly beautiful, and sometimes, when he was admiring its commonplace furniture, insignificant as the chairs and tables of a hotel parlor, I felt like crying out to him: 'Fool, will you never guess that close at hand are rooms full of treasures and wonders, such as the eye of man hath not seen, rooms that no step has crossed, but that might be yours to live in, could you but find the handle of the door?'"

    This version of the Early Short Stories (volumes 1 & 2) are newly  available at the Wharton Society Site, so in the future, a search of the site for certain phrases should turn up the right quotation.
    D. Campbell, 12/2/00