Letters from the Underworld: Fictions of Women and Writing

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From The Library Journal

The growing literature on American novelist Wharton (1862-1937) now includes these two books, an insightful interpretive work and an anthology of short stories not previously published together. The Selected Short Stories of Edith Wharton , edited and with an introduction by the author of Edith Wharton: A Biography ( LJ 8/75), offers a good representation of the themes and styles of Wharton's short story writing. Twenty-one stories from seven of her collected works are presented, including "All Souls" from Ghosts (1937), "The Journey" from The Greater Inclination (1899), and title stories from Xingu (1916) and The Descent of Man (1904). Editor Lewis provides brief, interesting background notes for each story included, adding insight and further value to the collection. In Edith Wharton's Letters from the Underworld , Waid interrelates Wharton's life experiences as a woman and a writer, meshing her fears and concerns about women, women writers, silence, suffocation, and inarticulateness with her attention to writing, art, and female identity throughout her work. Waid contends that the mythical Persephone, queen of the Underworld, is "Wharton's figure for the woman writer" and focuses on what she believes to be allegories of women, art, and writing in Wharton's works. Waid makes an admirable effort to interrelate the theme of women and writing to Wharton's works, but her focus on several subthemes gives the book a sense of disconnectedness. Both works are recommended for academic libraries.
- Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, N.J.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Chapel Hill, NC


University of North Carolina Press

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