The House of Mirth

The House of Mirth First published in THE HOUSE OF MIRTH shocked the New York society it so deftly chronicles portraying the moral social and economic restraints on a woman who dared to claim the privileges of m

  • Title: The House of Mirth
  • Author: Edith Wharton
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 110
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • First published in 1905, THE HOUSE OF MIRTH shocked the New York society it so deftly chronicles, portraying the moral, social and economic restraints on a woman who dared to claim the privileges of marriage without assuming the responsibilities.Lily Bart, beautiful, witty and sophisticated, is accepted by old money and courted by the growing tribe of nouveaux riches BuFirst published in 1905, THE HOUSE OF MIRTH shocked the New York society it so deftly chronicles, portraying the moral, social and economic restraints on a woman who dared to claim the privileges of marriage without assuming the responsibilities.Lily Bart, beautiful, witty and sophisticated, is accepted by old money and courted by the growing tribe of nouveaux riches But as she nears thirty, her foothold becomes precarious a poor girl with expensive tastes, she needs a husband to preserve her social standing and to maintain her in the luxury she has come to expect Whilst many have sought her, something fastidiousness or integrity prevents her from making a suitable match.

    One thought on “The House of Mirth”

    1. On occasions like this, I rue the absence of a 'tragedy' shelf or some variation of the same because mere 'melancholia' seems too modest, too equivocal a word to convey the kind of heartbreak Lily Bart's story inflicted on me.It is, perhaps, apposite that I came to this with my mind still fresh from Anita Desai's stirring homage to a resolutely single, unsung fictional heroine who holds together a disintegrating family, unacknowledged, misunderstood, left behind and forgotten (Clear Light of Day [...]

    2. Lily Bart, the protagonist of Edith Wharton's stunning first novel, is introduced to the reader as a young woman traveling within high society. While her blood and wealth may place her on the fringe of that society, her "pale" beauty (as it is continuously characterized throughout the novel) elevates her within its ranks. Lily is marriage material. And within Manhattan's high society at the turn of the century, women are meant to marry; and in order to marry women are meant to maintain a reputat [...]

    3. Poor, lovely Lily BartHer tragic storywill break your heartShe runs in the best circles Wears the right clothesAnd flirts with rich menBut everyone knowsThat she needs to marrySomeone – and fast!At 29 her looks won’t lastShe’s ringing up debtsBorrowing from menAnd displeasing their wivesNot to mention her friend Lawrence Selden, a lawyer(but not very rich)It’s Gilded Age New York And life’s a bitch If you’re not “old money”Like the Trenors, DorsetsAnd that odd Percy GryceThe most [...]

    4. Edith Wharton sets the New York social stage of the early twentieth century for a succession of short scenes that glitter with glossy superficiality. Lightning, backdrops and lush costumes are put on display to create a natural effect in this tableaux vivant of a novel, where Lily Bart stands out as the most stunning living painting ever. She is the leading actress of this theatrical narrative, a delicate flower bred for exhibition and ornament whose beauty shines with the precise effortless gra [...]

    5. “Her whole being dilated in an atmosphere of luxury. It was the background she required, the only climate she could breathe in.” Veblen in his "Theory of Leisure Class' (written six years before this book) argues that one of the way leisure class show their wealth is by maintaining people who will sit idly for them. The chief example is of wives, where richest men do not want their wives to be doing paid jobs - do and own charities - yes, art exhibitions -yes, partying - yes, just not doing [...]

    6. Reading Edith Wharton's second novel The House of Mirth was like being kidnapped by Barbary pirates and held for ransom for ten fortnights; not a comfort, but an adventure. Published in 1905, this tale of Miss Lily Bart -- a young woman held prisoner by New York high society for her grace and beauty until her dependence on wealthy patrons makes her vulnerable to their whims -- carried me off against my will and held me with jeweled prose, breathless detail to character and droll wit. Wharton's m [...]

    7. I have read almost all of Edith Wharton's writing. I have the highest regard for her work. She was overshadowed by Fitzgerald and Hemingway in her day but even so she won the Pulitzer prize in 1921 for her novel The Age of Innocence. The House of Mirth was one of her early novels and my favorite, although I like all of her novels.Lily Bart, the protagonist in The House of Mirth, is such a captivating and tragic figure that she has stayed in my mind for years. Of course, creating great characters [...]

    8. “The House of Mirth” just might be to “The Age of Innocence” what “Tom Sawyer” is to “Huck Finn”: that is, only but a stepping-stone towards a more profound greatness (although why I used that Twain analogy is a mystery even to me—I find that brand of American Lit a wee bit overrated). “Age of Innocence” is stupendous—utterly amazing. On the other hand, “The House of Mirth” describes the downward spiral of one, Miss Lily Bart, misunderstood by her social “set,” he [...]

    9. Lily Bart, born poor but from a blue blood family, grew up privileged, well her mother pretended they had wealth, always telling her hard working husband, she will not live like a pig! He succumbs to an early grave, broke, at the turn of the century (20th), that is, the mother spends money, they haven't got, going to Europe, buying expensive clothes, jewelry, furniture, all for the sake of appearances, their friends, in High Society are very well - to- do. Since childhood, Lily is told one thing [...]

    10. I know many authors who can write beautiful scenes beautifully,but there are few who can also write sad scenes as beautifully as Wharton.Yes,she is a real pro at love tragedies.When reading,sometimes I cynically wonder if each description and character gangs together to dig nasty holes here and there,even though the heroine tries every possible effort to get herself out of them.The story line is simple and easily predictable,which leaves it to your imagination why each character thinks and acts [...]

    11. “She had no tolerance for scenes which were not of her own making.”Edith Wharton had a particular way of writing which was a bit difficult to tune into at first but once I got the hang of it, it was real beautiful. Which was why I am saddened to give this such low rating. Just saddened.From the very start I really liked Lily Bart until the second half of the book, then, I couldn't stop myself getting annoyed with her everytime: her indecision, her actions and mostly just. HER.Rating: ★★ [...]

    12. This book reminded me of when I used to tutor a particular 15-year-old boy. I'd arrive and he'd be snacking and watching this dreadful MTV reality show called “My Super Sweet Sixteen”. I used to spend a lot of time over there, so I caught enough bits and pieces of it to feel thoroughly revolted.Those of you in the USA have probably seen it – it follows over-privileged kids as they organize and throw their lavish 16th birthday parties. But what I find scary about it aren't the 6-figure cars [...]

    13. This book has inspired my next tattoo. That is some fine literature. (And I am sure that if Edith Wharton were alive today, she would appreciate the tribute.)I have this theory that the mark of great literature is that no matter how many times you read it, you can always plausibly hope, as a reader, that things might turn out differently in the end. Not that the actual ending is wrong; it's just that the character of Lily Bart is so alive for me, I seriously believe she might make a different ch [...]

    14. Mrs. Lloyd by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1775)In our imperfectly organized society there is no provision as yet for the young woman who claims the privileges of marriage without assuming its obligations.Oh, how I delighted in this book. How I bathed in the world Edith Wharton created, this world belonging to beautiful Lily Bart, as she navigates through the temptations and perils of society of the early twentieth century. I was charmed, transported and moved as she tries desperately to cling to the lu [...]

    15. What a beautiful and tragic novel this is! As frustrating as Lily Bart could be — she kept making small errors that damaged her reputation — I also pitied her for how she was mistreated by society. Lily was unable to marry the man she loved because he wasn't rich enough, but she also couldn't tolerate the dull, wealthy men who were interested in her. Lily wanted to do the right thing, but somehow things kept going wrong for her until she ended up broke, sick and without hope. I decided to re [...]

    16. The House of Mirth is the third Wharton novel I've finished so far, and while reading it, I was able to figure out why I love her books so much. Edith Wharton is witty, and her writing is beautiful, but more importantly, she is honest and realistic. She portrays rich, spoiled society exactly as it is - full of people who hide their own misery behind lavish homes and strict manners - and condemns it, but even as her characters realize how toxic this environment is, they are still driven by an ins [...]

    17. Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth made me think about a lot of 'stuff'—so if you're one of those self-righteous hall monitor types who scolds reviewers on for not being relevant enough, then be on your way. There's nothing for you to see here except for some navel-gazing. Proceed at your own peril.The House of Mirth centers on a privileged white female named Lily Bart who's navigating the precarious social landscape of New York City and its environs at the tail-end of the nineteenth century. [...]

    18. Dear Ms. Wharton,I recently finished your book, The House of Mirth and am once again left disappointed. I so very much want to love your books. Your style of writing is beautiful and real, but the characters, oh the characters! I feel like I get to know them so well, and feel such hope for them, only to be crushed down at the end!Let us not start with Lily Bart as that would be jumping in rather hastily. First, let's discuss the handsome Lawrence Selden, that book-loving, philosophical lawyer wh [...]

    19. This will end up being a review of The House of Mirth, sort of.“Wasn’t she too beautiful, Lawrence? Don’t you like her best in that simple dress? It makes her look like the real Lily – the Lily I know.” p.142Let’s begin with rich, beautiful people. I am neither, and I come from a long line of neithers. I come from hardy, working-class stock – Scots-English, mostly. Lots of ‘em orphaned or abandoned and left to fend for themselves as a result of various kinds of neglect, addiction [...]

    20. A quiet scholar came home one night,From a social gathering, large and polite.Asked how he'd liked it, the scholar said:'If they were books, I'd leave them unread.'Goethe, East-West Divan[Note: Republication with new intro quote, after accidentally deleting book and review when removing it from one shelf when I thought it was on another. My apologies.]A superb, timeless novel that went to my top 50 because it was a real kick in the a$$ to NYC upper class society in the early 20th Century. So, wh [...]

    21. I need to clarify here. Did I love it? No. Would I read it again. Probably. Would I recommend it to others? Probably. Did I recognize that it was beautifully written? Of course. The nuances of every thought, every move were so beautifully told. Do I realize the important part the book played in advancing the lives of women. Well yes. I guess I just wasn't fully engaged in the book. It didn't take me away. I just kept thinking "Oh you stupid woman." I also just may have identified with the positi [...]

    22. If you have read anything by Wharton, you will know that mirth is rarely to be found in her work;-) That being said, her style of storytelling, for me at least, is so compelling and really draws you in. I liked this even more than The Age of Innocence, which was a surprisingly engaging novel, once you get past the fact that it's rather depressing.The House of Mirth is the story of Lily Bart, a beautiful young woman, who gets into money-related trouble, which haunts her for many years to come. Wh [...]

    23. So depressing I had to read two Nancy Drew mysteries afterward to cheer up. This is Edith Wharton’s other masterpiece, a Gilded Age tragedy of the beautiful and charming Lily Bart, who is trained only to be an ornamental wife — a big problem if you care who you marry and you’re dependent on relatives for money. Although essentially honorable, Lily does have her share of weaknesses and more than her share of bad luck. Assisting her inevitable downward trajectory is a society full of opportu [...]

    24. "But those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and harmful desires that plunge men into destruction and ruin. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains." –1 Tim. 6:9, 10Over ten years ago I watched the movie adaptation of The House of Mirth. I didn't remember much of the plot going into the book exc [...]

    25. All the men and women she knew were like atoms whirling away from each other in some wild centrifugal danceHouse of Mirthis a satirical portrait of New York high society at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Opulence and sumptuous life, luxury and carelessness, false glitter, rituals and conventions. All that creates the title house of mirth, world of fun and easy pleasure, fascinating and cruel at the same time. Absolute vicious circle.Lily Bart is charming and beautiful girl, woman in fa [...]

    26. I enjoyed the social commentary and the author's beautiful way with words. The character of Lily Bart was portrayed excellently and I also liked Seldon very much and would even have appreciated more of him. However the book was overwhelmingly depressing. Lily's fall from grace was so unfair and so extreme and I constantly wanted to see her find some way back. The ending is the ultimate in downers. So only three stars from me:(

    27. Lily Bart is the first and greatest of Edith Wharton's trapped women. Here's the trick Wharton pulls off with her: she's not great, and Wharton makes you wish she was worse.Lily is beautiful; she looks, thinks her star-crossed friend Selden, as though "she must have cost a great deal to make, that a great many dull and ugly people must, in some mysterious way, have been sacrificed to produce her." Maybe she looks a little like this painting she mimics for a tableau vivant, which is a shitty part [...]

    28. Edith Wharton's House of Mirth is, I believe, her at her consummate best. The character of Lily Bart is complex, she is a moral battleground, she is both distinctly a product of her Golden Age society and paradoxically a modern heroine, a timeless heroine; she is both hero and villain, she is both to be pitied and hated; she is always ambiguous. Whatever Jonathan Franzen may say about Edith Wharton's unloveliness, what he has to say about her characters is not irrelevant: they are tortured beaut [...]

    29. Wonderful!Lily Bart is the most genuine character that I have had the pleasure of encountering in a long, long time. She is a product of her world and imprisoned by it. When I started the novel, I had flashbacks to Anna Karenina. Society lures these women into their situations and then condemns them for their inability to survive the gauntlet they are set.Wharton obviously intimately understands the “old money” society of New York city and all the nuances that exist between those who are sec [...]

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