Inventing the Real
Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 2008 - Fiction - 152 pages
Ironies upon ironies unfold as two kindred writers (in life as well as art) and masters of the short story dance along the border between reality and appearance. Wharton explores the secret love of a woman for her illegitimate daughter, whom her married sister has adopted in an effort to save the mother's reputation and to allow her daughter to have a peaceful childhood. James probes a portrait painter's art as he deals with a couple of threadbare aristocrats, who are seeking employment as his models. They are the "real thing" he is seeking to portray--denizens of drawing room society--but his work is thwarted when he discovers that plucky lower-class models are, in fact, far better able to take on the personae of a rarified class.
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