Edith Wharton: The Custom of the Country

(1716 words)

The second of Edith Wharton's full-length masterpieces, The Custom of the Country (1913), had a long and difficult gestation of several years and many interruptions between 1907 and 1913; but when at last the novel was in full swing, she described it as piling up of words, “as if publishers paid by the syllable.” The financial metaphor is significant: The Custom of the Country falls within the tradition of the money-novel, the class of literature focused on men-on-the-make, on industrial and financial operations, and on every kind of fraud associated with such activities. Unlike her other more characteristic works, this tale of a young woman's adventures with money and position possesses an unusual, bristling energy, …

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Preston, Claire. "The Custom of the Country". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 June 2003
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=1146, accessed 01 December 2015.]