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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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Old Age and the Embrace of the Uncanny

Old Age and the Embrace of the Uncanny

(p.279) 7 Old Age and the Embrace of the Uncanny
Edith Wharton and the Modern Privileges of Age

Melanie V. Dawson

University Press of Florida

Contextualizing Wharton’s old-aged fiction within depictions of a destabilized old age, or a senescence of decline and imperilled personhood, this chapter compares Wharton’s writing to that of Vorse and Hall. In contrast with visions of a defamiliarized, uncanny aged self, Wharton’s work posits an older age filled with motivating desires and ambitions. This is also fiction that deploys gothic tropes to reveal how completely interaction with the aged tends to destabilize others, especially younger viewers, who see only age’s vagaries and unsteadiness, and who find it fearful.

Keywords:   gothic, old age, decline, vagaries, Hall, Vorse, Uncanny, Unsteadiness, Destabilize, personhood

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