Edith Wharton and the Coherence of the Novella: From Initiation to Disillusion
The three novellas I want to discuss here, The Touchstone, Sanctuary and Madame de Treymes, all date from the early part of Edith Wharton’s career, between 1900 and 1907, when she was making the transition from short story to novel writing. The intermediate length and scope of the novella form allowed her to attain a coherence of design, language and content which is perhaps unparalleled in her other fiction. Wharton was, at this time, mapping out her fictional territory in both thematic and structural terms and whilst these novellas do not, perhaps, contain her most compelling narratives they have other claims to dynamism and distinctness. Amongst other significant features, the novellas share a central concern with problem solving, where the problem is articulated both as plot and structure; in other words, technical questions absorb Wharton in the construction of these texts and the solutions she comes up with deserve close attention.
KeywordsShort Story Romantic Love Figurative Language French Family Opening Page
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