A Citizen of the World
This introductory chapter explores Wharton’s cosmopolitan engagements, beginning with a reading of The Age of Innocence. Distinguishing between the immersive cosmopolitanism of Ellen Olenska and the liberal, yet dilettantish cosmopolitanism of Newland Archer, the chapter argues that Wharton would balance disparate cosmopolitanisms throughout her career. Positioning Wharton’s career in relation to cosmopolitan theory, in particular the work of Kwame Anthony Appiah and Bruce Robbins, the chapter argues that viewing Wharton’s global and transnational engagements offers new insights into her work. In addition, it argues for reading Wharton’s work more actively across genre, demonstrating how critics have made a false division between Wharton’s fiction, political writings, and non-fiction prose.
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