The Age of Innocence
by Edith Wharton
Published in 1920 (101,271 words) (295 pages)
Categories: Fiction, Novel
The Age of Innocence (1920) is a novel by Edith Wharton, which won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize. The story is set in upper class New York City in the 1870s.
In 1920, The Age of Innocence was published twice; first in four parts, July – October, in the Pictorial Review magazine, and then by D. Appleton and Company as a book in New York and in London. The book was warmly received, the Times Book Review considered it as "A brilliant panorama of New York's 45 years ago. The novel in most demand at public libraries and a best seller in the bookstores."
Somewhere in this book, Wharton observes that clever liars always come up with good stories to back up their fabrications, but that really clever liars don't bother to explain anything at all. This is the kind of insight that makes The Age of Innocence so indispensable. Wharton's story of the upper classes of Old New York, and Newland Archer's impossible love for the disgraced Countess Olenska, is a perfectly wrought book about an era when upper-class culture in this country was still a mixture of American and European extracts, and when "society" had rules as rigid as any in history.