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Edith Wharton, Edith Wharton, 0817309136, 0-8173-0913-6, 978-0-8173-0913-8, 9780817309138,

Edith Wharton
Art and Allusion
by Helen Killoran

Quality Paper
1998. 240 pp.
Price:  $24.95 s

Killoran demonstrates that an understanding of the particular types

of literary allusion to be found in Edith Wharton's novels produces fresh

readings of her work and her life. 

Edith Wharton was extremely well read in many areas of

literature, literary criticism, travel writing, social and natural sciences,

history, and philosophy. Furthermore, she read prolifically in these and

other subjects in English, French, German, and Italian. Wharton was also

intimately familiar with the fine arts, including painting, sculpture,

architecture, and landscape gardening. Wharton's abiding knowledge of such

a wide range of subjects became the foundation for her use and invention

of many new types of literary allusion, some functioning much like the

conceits of 17th-century metaphysical poetry and others working together

to form an elaborate code. 

As her writing progressed, Wharton invented increasingly

sophisticated and entirely original types of allusion. To show that developing

complexity, Killoran examines ten of Wharton's novels chronologically.

A final chapter discusses the many previously unnoticed subtexts in the

novels examined and demonstrates that those subtexts provide unmistakable

clues to intimate details of the author's life. 

Killoran calls for a reassessment not only of the critical

possibilities of Wharton's work and the private life about which she was

so reticent but also of her position in American literature. Killoran concludes

that, as a bridge between the Victorians and the highly allusive modernists

such as Eliot and Joyce, Edith Wharton stands independently as an American

writer of the first rank. 

Helen Killoran is Associate Professor of English at Ohio University-Lancaster.

"Killoran makes an important contribution in her exhaustivestudy of literary allusions in Wharton's fiction. . . . Comprehensive,sound in its scholarship, clear and concise in style, this book is highlyrecommended as a valuable resource to all students and specialists in Americanliterature and narrative art."

"Helen Killoran has provided students of Edith Wharton withan indispensable guide to many of the allusions she consistently used inher major works."
-South Atlantic Review

1995 Choice Outstanding Academic Book, sponsored by Choice Magazine

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