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Edith Wharton and the Modern Privileges of Age$
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Melanie V. Dawson

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780813066301

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813066301.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

Time and the Trauma of Witnessing

Time and the Trauma of Witnessing

(p.69) 2 Time and the Trauma of Witnessing
Edith Wharton and the Modern Privileges of Age

Melanie V. Dawson

University Press of Florida

This chapter explores ocular assessments of aging within defined communities, one in rural Florida and one in modern Manhattan, by Wharton and Rawlings. The witnessing of age, in such contexts, creates unexpected trauma, so destabilizing are the effects of changing bodies, especially as witnessed by individuals who find their own aging implicated by comparison. The narratives that stress traumatic witnessing are also those that depict not only rapidly changing youth, but also the simultaneous aging of older individuals, who find their own changing lives difficult to confront. Theirs are also the changes that are less spectacular, but more consequential, given the way they disqualify the aging from active and romantic experiences. Witnessing aging, thus becomes a challenging enterprise, and one that depends upon doubled bodies, or forms that age in tandem with one another; aging thus engenders acts of translation, so challenging is its apprehension.

Keywords:   Rawlings, trauma, witnessing of age, destabilizing, doubled bodies, changing bodies, Florida, Manhattan

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