The Age of Innocence, always accounted one of Wharton's three or four masterpieces, is the novel which has in large degree contributed – and not accurately – to her reputation as a nostalgic evoker of a lost, genteel world embattled by high modernist tendencies in the arts, a writer unable to take her contemporary world seriously as the subject of fiction. This is in fact very far from the truth, but The Age of Innocence does self-consciously look back, unlike most of her work immediately before and after it, to the vanished world of her infancy, the young-adulthood of her parents' generation in the 1870s.
Published in 1920, partly, as she freely admitted to her friends, in response to the tectonic shift in …
Preston, Claire. "The Age of Innocence". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 09 October 2002
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