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Edith Wharton and Cosmopolitanism$
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Meredith Goldsmith and Emily J. Orlando

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062815

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062815.001.0001

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Orientalism, Modernism, and Gender in Edith Wharton’s Late Novels

Orientalism, Modernism, and Gender in Edith Wharton’s Late Novels

Chapter:
(p.226) 10 Orientalism, Modernism, and Gender in Edith Wharton’s Late Novels
Source:
Edith Wharton and Cosmopolitanism
Author(s):

Margaret A. Toth

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813062815.003.0011

Given the excellent scholarship on Edith Wharton and race appearing in the last two decades, surprisingly little critical attention has been given to a racial discourse that pervades much of Wharton’s writing: Orientalism. This essay demonstrates that Orientalism informs several of Wharton’s novels and, in the case of late works like Twilight Sleep, The Glimpses of the Moon, Hudson River Bracketed, and The Gods Arrive, shapes them in fundamental and complex—if sometimes inconsistent—ways. Specifically, Wharton uses references to Orientalism as a vehicle through which to identify and critique various ills she perceives in modernist social and aesthetic trends. Attending to Wharton’s engagement with Orientalism, then, opens up new interpretations of her late works, particularly with respect to race, gender, and modernism. Moreover, understanding Wharton’s Orientalism allows us to situate her as a global citizen and grapple with the imperialist views subtending her fiction.

Keywords:   Orientalism, race, gender, modernism, imperialism, Twilight Sleep, The Glimpses of the Moon, Hudson River Bracketed, The Gods Arrive

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