The End of the Age of Innocence: Edith Wharton and the First World War

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Palgrave Macmillan, Dec 15, 1997 - Biography & Autobiography - 238 pages
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Thoughts of Edith Wharton conjure images of upper-class life in turn-of-the-century New York City: hansom cabs wait curbside in front of Washington Square townhouses; chandeliers glow above the heads of waltzing couples. What does not come to mind immediately is the tough-mindedness of Wharton herself and the efforts she put forth on behalf of others. Alan Price illuminates this side of Wharton in The End of the Age of Innocence: Edith Wharton and the First World War. During World War I, Wharton saved the lives of thousands of Belgian and French refugees. When the war began, the expatriated Wharton and Henry James saw any possible German victory as "the crash of civilization, " thus prompting their early involvement in the allied cause. In the opening weeks of the conflict, Wharton wrote war reportage at the front and organized relief efforts in Paris. Before the first year was over, she had created organizations and raised funds for three major war charities that bore her name. As the war sank into a stalemate of trench warfare, Wharton continued to write magazine and newspaper articles, organize fundraising schemes, and rally famous painters, composers, and writers to help sway American popular opinion and raise money for refugees. The End of the Age of Innocence tells the dramatic story of Wharton's heroic crusade to save the lives of displaced Belgians and the suffering citizens of her adopted France.

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The end of the age of innocence: Edith Wharton and the First World War

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Expatriate U.S. novelist Edith Wharton spent the years 1914-18 organizing, administering, and raising funds for relief for French and Belgian civilians displaced by World War I. Like her friend Henry ... Read full review

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Edith Wharton
Janet Beer
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About the author (1997)

Alan Price is associate professor of English and Amerian studies at Pennsylvania State University, Hazleton.

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