Msnowe's Blog

Words of New York Wisdom

Posted in Edith Wharton, New York by m.snowe on May 27, 2008

It’s a firm belief that anyone new to new york city should read a little bit of Edith Wharton. And we’re not talking about the much pushed-on-high-schoolers Edith Wharton of “Ethan Frome” fame–we mean the Edith Wharton who penned The Age of Innocence, or The House of Mirth. Take for example, if you will, this telling quote, written pre-1920:
(when talking to the countess, on her return to NYC after a long time in Italy)
” ‘Yes, you have been away a very long time.’
‘Oh, centuries and centuries; so long,’ she said, ‘that I’m sure I’m dead and buried, and this dear old place is heaven;’ which, for reasons he could not define, struck Newland Archer as an even more disrespectful way of describing New York society.”

Or perhaps this one:
“Everyone (including Mr. Sillerton Jackson) was agreed that old Catherine had never had beauty–a gift which, in the eyes of New York, justified every success, and excused a certain number of failings.”

And this one, regarding New Yorker snobbery in light of impending marriage:
“And, in spite of the cosmopolitan views on which he prided himself, he thanked heaven that he was a New Yorker, and about to ally himself with one of his own kind.”

all familiar sentiments, about one hundred years off, don’t you agree?