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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: 18 September 2021

Watching the Flame of Youth

Watching the Flame of Youth

(p.149) 4 Watching the Flame of Youth
Edith Wharton and the Modern Privileges of Age

Melanie V. Dawson

University Press of Florida

Focusing on the “flaming youth” figure of the 1920s, this chapter explores the prevalence of discussions about child marriage in works by Wharton and Fabian, exploring forms of generation-specific authority and the peculiar age-specific qualities of the “child-woman” at the center of these plots. Scenes of youthful teen girls’ slumber, which frequently overlap with middle-aged men’s sexual interests, predict many of the aspects of these relationships that interest Wharton, whose fictions imagine child marriage, then increasingly problematize the age-asymmetrical relationships involved in such unions.

Keywords:   child marriage, marriage, age-asymmetrical relationships, Fabian, flaming youth, child-woman, generation-specific authority, slumber

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