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Friday, September 21, 2007

On finishing "Edith Wharton"

I'm a little late in sharing my thoughts, but I finally finished the Edith Wharton biography. It was an incredible read, though a long one. In the end I began to feel sad for my favorite writer, for enduring so many changes in society and the loss of so many friends and loved ones. She did not have a sense of how history would portray her at the time of her death, but I believe she worried about seeming insignificant.

She was not and is not insignificant. If anything, she is a model for how to write about real life without the requisite happy endings. Drawing from her own losses, she brings to us her haunting characters inspired by her life and her world.

I've yet to process the entire book, but there is one line in a letter to her lover, Morton Fullerton, that strikes at the heart of her for me:
"When one is a lonely-hearted and remembering creature, as I am, it is a misfortune to love too late, and as completely as I have loved you. Everything else grows so ghostly afterward."

2 comments:

Edna said...

Is this a new biography of Edith Wharton? I haven't read any of her books in years, but there was a time when I feasted on them! Your quote from Edith does exemplify her spirit.

Wendy Hoke said...

Yes, the biography by Hermione Lee came out in late April. It's giant (weighing 3.5 pounds), but worth the read.