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Encyclopedia > The House of Mirth
The House of Mirth

The House of Mirth, Penguin Books edition 1993
Author Edith Wharton
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher Charles Scribner's Sons
Publication date 14 October 1905
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
ISBN NA
The House of Mirth
Directed by Terence Davies
Produced by Olivia Stewart
Written by Edith Wharton (novel)
Terence Davies (screenplay)
Starring Gillian Anderson
Laura Linney
Dan Aykroyd
Anthony LaPaglia
Eric Stoltz
Cinematography Remi Adefarasin
Editing by Michael Parker
Distributed by Sony Picture Classics
Release date(s) 2000
Running time 140 min.
IMDb profile

The House of Mirth (1905), by Edith Wharton, is a novel about New York socialite Lily Bart attempting to secure a husband and a place in rich society. It is one of the first novels of manners in American literature, and one of the first to openly explore how American Victorian society offered little social mobility for women. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Edith Wharton (January 24, 1862 – August 11, 1937) was an American novelist, short story writer, and designer. ... For other uses, see Country (disambiguation). ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... A novel (from French nouvelle Italian novella, new) is an extended, generally fictional narrative, typically in prose. ... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... Charles Scribners Sons is a publisher that was founded in 1846 at the Brick Church Chapel on New Yorks Park Row. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... ISBN-13 represented as EAN-13 bar code (in this case ISBN 978-3-16-148410-0) The International Standard Book Number, ISBN, is a unique[1] commercial book identifier barcode. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Terence Davies (November 10, 1945 -) is a British screenwriter - film director, sometime novelist and actor. ... Edith Wharton (January 24, 1862 – August 11, 1937) was an American novelist, short story writer, and designer. ... Gillian Leigh Anderson (born August 9, 1968) is an Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning American actress, best known for her roles as FBI Agent Dana Scully in the American TV series The X-Files and Lady Dedlock in the BBC TV series Bleak House. ... Laura Linney (born February 5, 1964) is an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning American actress, active in movies, television, and theatre. ... Daniel Edward Aykroyd CM (born July 1, 1952) is an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning Canadian/American comedian, actor, screenwriter, and musician. ... Anthony LaPaglia (born 31 January 1959) (pronounced ) is an Australian actor, best known for his role as FBI agent Jack Malone on the American TV series Without a Trace, a role which won him a Golden Globe Award. ... Eric Stoltz (born September 30, 1961) is an American actor widely considered one of the most prominent and diverse performers in independent film. ... Remi Adefarasin (born, London) is a noted British movie cinematographer. ... Michael Parker (b. ... 1905 (MCMV) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar). ... Edith Wharton (January 24, 1862 – August 11, 1937) was an American novelist, short story writer, and designer. ... American literature refers to written or literary work produced in the area of the United States and Colonial America. ...

Contents

The meaning of the title

The title derives from Ecclesiastes 7:4: The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. Ecclesiastes, Qohelet in Hebrew, is a book of the Hebrew Bible. ...


Plot summary

Of all of Edith Wharton's best-known novels about Old New York, The House of Mirth is the most conventionally tragic, for it shows the heroine's squalid death.


Like most Wharton novels, The House of Mirth examines the conflict between rigid social expectation and personal desire. Lily Bart is extremely intelligent, and adept at playing Society's games, which expect her to manipulate an advantageous marriage for herself. Yet, she sabotages all her potential marriages; she wants more for herself, but is too-enamored of luxurious living to marry for love alone. She loses the good opinion of the wealthy, but tedious and prudish, Mr. Percy Gryce, evidently infatuated with her, when she decides to skip church, instead of attending with him. Her lawyer friend, Lawrence Selden, finds her attractive and delightful, but does not seriously attempt to engage her affections, as he knows himself not rich enough.


Lily spends much time as an accessory to the lives of rich women, as her beauty and social skills make her socially useful. The venemous Bertha Dorset invites her to travel on a yacht, along with her and her husband, but Bertha falsely implies Lily has committed adultery with her husband, in order to distract his attention from her own infidelity. This public scandal socially ruins Lily, causing her straight-laced Aunt Julia to disinherit her. Lily has evidence of Bertha's infidelity: love letters from her to Lawrence Selden; yet, faces and suffers the consequences of the scandal rather than blackmail Bertha.


Gradually dropped by almost all of her society friends, she is forced to seek increasingly menial and disreputable work, at which she fails. Eventually, her Aunt Julia dies, leaving her a small sum of money, instead of the expected large inheritance, also exactly the sum she owes the husband of one of her former friends. After paying her debt, Liliy accidentally kills herself with an overdose of the sleeping draught to which she had become addicted.


The wealthy Jew, Sim Rosedale has a significant role in Lily Bart's fate. As was typical of the American anti-Semitism of Mrs Wharton's day, she portrays the Jewish man as a greasy social climber whose money and business success have unwarrantedly admitted him to the company of an exclusive, Christian social class. Slim courts Lily until her social disaster renders her maritally useless to him; he then rejects her. Perhaps despite her intentions, Wharton creates in Slim Rosedale the only other character, besides Lily Bart, with the wit and intelligence to understand the what and the why of Bertha Dorset's jealous assassination of her character. Slim Rosedale is the only character — man or woman — in The House of Mirth to offer to help the poor Lily Bart without hope or expectation of sexual return on investment or monetary profit. Slim Rosedale's kindness renders him the better man to those who think themselves his betters.


Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

A 1906 stage adaptation was written by Clyde Fitch. A 1918 film version was directed by Albert Capellani and starred Katherine Harris Barrymore as Lily Bart. A 1981 version was a TV movie, directed by Adrian Hall, with Geraldine Chaplin as Lily Bart. A 2000 film version was directed by Terence Davies and starred Gillian Anderson as Bart. 1906 (MCMVI) was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... Clyde Fitch (May 2, 1865 - September 4, 1909) American dramatist. ... 1918 (MCMXVIII) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar (see link for calendar) or a common year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar. ... Year 1981 (MCMLXXXI) was a common year starting on Thursday (link displays the 1981 Gregorian calendar). ... Adrian Hall is an English actor born 1 January 1959. ... Geraldine Chaplin (born July 31, 1944 in Santa Monica, California) is an Anglo-American actress. ... Year 2000 (MM) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display full 2000 Gregorian calendar). ... Terence Davies (November 10, 1945 -) is a British screenwriter - film director, sometime novelist and actor. ... Gillian Leigh Anderson (born August 9, 1968) is an Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning American actress, best known for her roles as FBI Agent Dana Scully in the American TV series The X-Files and Lady Dedlock in the BBC TV series Bleak House. ...


External links

Wikisource has original text related to this article:
The House of Mirth

  Results from FactBites:
 
"The House of Mirth": Social Renovation Creates Social Disorder (2926 words)
The society that Wharton depicts in The House of Mirth is one that serves two masters: the capitalist marketplace and the older aristocratic traditionalism.
In The House Mirth this new high society, infused with the old and new, is depicted as narcissistic, voracious and soulless.
Throughout The House of Mirth, the reader is exposed to the complex intercourse that existed in high society.
THE HOUSE OF MIRTH - DVD (1501 words)
The House of Mirth is likewise obsessed with the illusory depths of mirrors and the suffusion of warm light that physically blurs the edges of the characters, melting every scene into a carefully framed and meticulously blocked Rococo tableau vivant.
The House of Mirth is amazingly lush to behold, yet so festooned with artifice and manner that it is emotionally cold: a dusty painting in a forgotten wing of a museum that dazzles with its technique but only fleetingly captures the imagination.
Even if The House of Mirth is not without its occasional esoteric pleasure (for the student of the technical aspects of direction or of the visual arts and for the considerable talents of actress Laura Linney), it is too successful at being an artifice and a pretense.
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