A Feast of Words

  • by Cynthia Griffin Wolff
  • Narrated by Anna Fields
  • 19 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The mystery of how a wealthy New York socialite became a major American novelist is brilliantly explored in this fascinating critical biography, widely considered to be the most perceptive introduction to Edith Wharton's life and work.This new edition includes two chapters: one on Lily Bart and the lethal stereotypes of women on the 19th-century stage, and another on the way Wharton's own sensual awakening led from the frozen austerity of Ethan Frome to the lyricism and tempered happiness of Summer. Everyone who admires Wharton's novels or enjoys the films made from them will want to experience this superb biography.


What the Critics Say

"Immensely satisfying...reflects a fine understanding of the interior life of a woman writer." (New York Times Book Review)
"Gives us the flesh and blood woman - and a splendidly gallant creature she is." (St. Louis Dispatch)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Very useful contribution to Wharton biography

At the risk of violating Audible guidelines, the review by Linda Lou is so harsh and unforgiving that I want to push back at her just a bit. Quite apart from the criticism of Anna Fields delivery, the book itself, updated from an original version, is one of just a few first rate critical biographies of Edith Wharton, whose life and writing bridged the Victorian and Modern era. Miss Lou must not be familiar with academic writing, much of which is so abstruse and arcane it makes your teeth ache. Professor Wolff has a literate and graceful style and takes on the entire corpus of Wharton writing, placing it in context of the time it was written, differentiating for example between the erotic content in pre and post-Fullerton efforts. Her work on Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome as well as Summer, House of Mirth, and Custom of the Country, is first rate and she may even have presented Hitchcockians with a source for Hitchcock’s famous MacGuffin. Wolff was a Professor of Literature at MIT when this piece came out in the 90s and may be retired by now. She deserves better than the previous review and Audible is to be congratulated for including academic work like this in their offerings. Charles Bland, Niagara Falls New York
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- Charles Bland

Interesting yet excruciatingly verbose

It is evident that the author Wolff has a great deal of insight into Wharton, which she brings to bear in this tome. If you are looking for a detailed assessment that frequently borders on tiresome over-analysis of Wharton's life, you will find it here. What I found especially irksome - and misplaced - was the last section titled 'Afterwards,' whereupon Wolff launches yet again into a re-review of Ethan Frome and The House of Mirth. It seemed to rehash much of the same ground as in previous chapters covering same without further illumination, although Wolff appeared to be focusing on certain autobiographical comparisons, and theatrical devices Wharton employed in her writing. I was happy to get to the end!
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- jill

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-13-2009
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.