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“Every One Knew” : Epistemologies of the City in Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence

Title data

Horn, Katrin:
“Every One Knew” : Epistemologies of the City in Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence.
In: Edith Wharton Review. Vol. 36 (2021) Issue 2 . - pp. 148-164.
ISSN 2330-3964
DOI: https://doi.org/10.5325/editwharrevi.36.2.0148

Project information

Project title:
Project's official titleProject's id
Ökonomie und Epistemologie von Tratsch in US-amerikanischer Literatur und Kultur des 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhunderts401052633

Project financing: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

Abstract in another language

New York looms large in much of Edith Wharton's work, maybe never more so than in The Age of Innocence. The city is not just the space in which the stories unfold or the social context which frames the central drama. Rather, “New York” serves as the central source of knowledge for characters and readers alike. Whether in the form of private gossip or society journals, news travels fast, judgement is swift, and knowledge about everyone's intimate affairs is ever present. The Age of Innocence is hence marked by the stark distinction between the reticence of its main characters—who live in an “atmosphere of faint implications and pale delicacies,” share “mute message[s],” and rely on “silence to communicate all [they] had to say”—and the eloquence of the city. By detailing this contrast between the novel's main characters and its setting, this article addresses gossip and other forms of communal, networked, or anonymous knowledge not only as an element of plot, but as narrative strategy in The Age of Innocence. It thus combines an exploration of Edith Wharton's distinct style with an analysis of New York's central role in her writing.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: gossip; narration; New York; rumor; The Age of Innocence; The Writing of Fiction; Edith Wharton
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Languages and Literature > Chair American Studies/ Anglophone Literatures and Cultures > Chair American Studies/ Anglophone Literatures and Cultures - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sylvia Mayer
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 800 Literature > 810 American literature in English
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2021 10:22
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2021 10:22
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/66954