Abstract

In this essay I argue that The Custom of the Country (1913) is less a novel about divorce or the invasion of New York by the nouveau riche than an exploration of the impact of unprecedented fungibility and commodification of property on personal identity. Wharton articulates her sense of the consequences of changing property relations in the text not only in terms of the constitutive relationships between persons and (often family) property but also in terms of competing vocabularies.

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