Join us Tuesday, July 23 at 7:00pm to celebrate the poetry of Edith Wharton with Dr. Irene Goldman-Price, editor of Selected Poems of Edith Wharton.
About the Book
Celebrated novelist, wartime correspondent, short story writer, and friend to such famous figures as Teddy Roosevelt and Henry James—EdithWharton was a woman of many accomplishments. But it may come as a surprise to some that she considered poetry to be her “chiefest passion and greatest joy.”
Despite being better known for her twenty novels, including The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome, and Pulitzer Prize-winning The Age of Innocence,Wharton published three volumes of poetry in her lifetime, and she left many more poems unpublished in journals. In Selected Poems of Edith Wharton, esteemed Wharton scholar Irene Goldman-Price presents a revealing collection of Wharton’s most compelling poems—50 of which have never before been published. Together, they offer a fascinating look into the mind and heart of one of the twentieth century’s most accomplished writers.
Arranged thematically and accompanied by passages of context, these poems provide a deeper, more intimate view of Wharton’s character than her famously refined prose. Here, Wharton is at her most perceptive and most vulnerable, exploring topics such as war and human suffering, life and death, politics, love, and heartbreak. Spanning decades, from Wharton’s teenage years to when she was in her seventies, the poems also convey a sense of growth: early love poems written as Wharton was coming of age differ in tone and weight from the more mature lines of passion and anguish composed during her tumultuous love affair with playboy journalist Morton Fullerton. There is also a noticeable shift in attitudes toward war in her poems, likely owing to Wharton’s own experience witnessing the horrors of the battlefield up close while working as a reporter and volunteer on the front lines in France during World War I.
Some of Wharton’s most intriguing poems involve the writer’s examination of her own vivid imagination: in her mind, both a blessing and a curse. In “La Folle du Logis,” this imagination is a “wild thing” living within the body of the speaker; in “Life,” the speaker is herself an instrument through which Life has chosen to play her tune. Such dexterous imagination no doubt also helped Wharton leap into the minds of characters whose lives were wildly different from her own: from the Ancient Greek prisoners of war she envisioned while visiting the Quarry of the Capuchins in Syracuse, to contemporary prisoners and the poor in poems like “Only A Child,” “The Rose,” and “The Bread of Angels.” Many ofWharton’s poems also explore the limitations women faced during her lifetime, both in public and private.
Relatively overlooked until now, Wharton’s poetry gives us a crucial and highly enjoyable new view of this literary master.
About the Authors
Edith Wharton (1862–1937) was an American novelist—the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Age of Innocence in 1921—as well as a short story writer, playwright, designer, reporter, and poet. Born into one of New York's elite families, she drew upon her knowledge of upper class aristocracy to realistically portray the lives and morals of the Gilded Age.
Dr. Irene Goldman-Price is the co-editor of American Literary Mentors and editor of My Dear Governess: The Letters of Edith Wharton to Anna Bahlmann. She has served on the editorial board of the Edith Wharton Review and is a frequent public speaker on various aspects of Wharton’s life and work.
This event is free and open to the public. To RSVP, please click here.
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Books will be available to purchase at the event, but if you would like to reserve a copy ahead of time, you may do so below.