`It was not so much his great height that marked him ... it was the careless powerful look that he had, in spite of a lameness checking each step like the jerk of a chain.' Set against the bleak winter landscape of New England, Ethan Frome tells the story of a poor farmer, lonely and downtrodden, his wife Zeena, and her cousin, the enchanting Mattie Silver. In the playing out of this short novel's powerful and engrossing drama, Edith Wharton constructed her least characteristic and most celebrated book. In its unyielding and shocking pessimism, its bleak demonstration of tragic waste, it is a masterpiece of psychological and emotional realism.
In her introduction the distinguished critic Elaine Showalter discusses the background to the novel's composition and the reasons for its enduring success.
Cant you see that I dont care what anybody says? Charity Royall lives in the small New England village of North Dormer. Born among outcasts from the Mountain beyond, she is rescued by lawyer Royall and lives with him as his ward. Never allowed to forget her disreputable origins Charity despises North Dormer and rebels against the stifling dullness of the tight-knit community surrounding her. Her boring job in the local library is interrupted one day by the arrival of a young visiting architect, Lucius Harney, whose good looks andsophistication arouse her passionate nature. As their relationship grows, so too does Charitys conflict with her guardian; darker undercurrents start to come to the surface.Summer is often compared to Whartons other New England story, Ethan Frome, and it shares the same intensity of feeling and repression. Wharton regarded it as one of her best works, and its compelling story of burgeoning sexuality and illicit desire has a strikingly modern and troubling ambiguity.ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford Worlds Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxfords commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.