The Touchstone

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Edith Wharton's first published novella, _The Touchstone_, is really a story about celebrity: public consumption and commodity in relation to a celebrated figure. Stephen Glennard learns that a biographer will soon publish a book about Margaret Aubyn's short life. Glennard, it turns out, corresponded with the author during her short life. Publishing these intimate letters will allow Glennard many pleasures in life, incluing money enough to marry his beautiful new beloved, Alexa Trent. The novella includes flashes of Wharton's beautiful phrasing, the kind fully fleshed and beautifully crafted in later works like _The Custom of the Country_. 

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Page 18 - made him feel his inferiority. The sense of mental equality had been gratifying to his raw ambition ; but as his selfknowledge defined itself, his understanding of her also increased ; and if man is at times indirectly flattered by the moral superiority of woman, her mental ascendency is extenuated by no such oblique tribute
Page 156 - worth suffering for, worth dying for, to a woman—that's the gift she would have wished to give ! " "Ah," he cried, "but woe to him by whom it cometh. What did I ever give her?" "The happiness of giving,
Page 157 - This may sound like extravagant praise, but no conventional commendation would be adequate for such a book. Between these stories and those of the ordinary entertaining sort there is a great gulf fixed. — The Dial.
Page 70 - the penalty of greatness—one becomes a monument historique. Posterity pays the cost of keeping one up, but on condition that one is always open to the public." "I dont see that that exonerates the man who gives up the keys of the sanctuary, as it were." " Who was he ? " another voice inquired. " Who was he ? Oh, nobody, I fancy—the
Page 103 - indignation might still reconcile him to himself. Therein lay his one hope of regeneration ; her scorn was the moral antiseptic that he needed, her comprehension the one balm that could heal him. . . . When they left the dinner he was so afraid of speaking that he let her drive home alone, and went to the club with Flamel.
Page 77 - the act in relation to Margaret Aubyn ; for death, if it hallows, also makes innocuous. Glennard's God was a god of the living, of the immediate, the actual, the tangible ; all his days he had lived in the presence of that god, heedless of the divinities who, below the surface of our deeds and passions, silently forge the fatal weapons of the dead.
Page 21 - presence. She had adopted, and she successfully maintained, a note as affectionately impersonal as his own; she wrote ardently of her work, she questioned him about his, she even bantered him on the inevitable pretty girl who was certain before long to divert the current of his confidences. To Glennard, who was almost a stranger in New York, the sight of Mrs.
Page 4 - imagination, the physical reluctance had, inexplicably, so overborne the intellectual attraction, that the last years had been, to both of them, an agony of conflicting impulses. Even now, if, in turning over old papers his hand lit on her letters, the touch filled him with inarticulate misery. , . . " She had so few intimate friends . . . that letters will be of special value.
Page 67 - the woman's soul, absolutely torn up by the roots—her whole self laid bare ; and to a man who evidently did n't care ; who could n't have cared. I don't mean
Page 149 - THE great renewals take effect as imperceptibly as the first workings of spring. Glennard, though he felt himself brought nearer to his wife, was still, as it were, hardly within speaking distance. He was but laboriously acquiring the rudiments of a new language; and he had to grope for her through the dense fog of his humiliation, the distorting vapor against which

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