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  • Wharton and Cather
  • Carol J. Singley and Robert Thacker

There is much to laud in the 7 books and 22 book chapters and articles on Edith Wharton published this year. Most welcome is Laura Rattray's edition of Wharton's previously unpublished plays and novels. Critical studies reflect a wide range of critical methodologies applied to many texts. Jean Carol Griffith has written an excellent study of regionalism and Dianne Chambers a valuable feminist critique of narrative style. Two studies of Darwinism by Judith Saunders and Jacquelyn Scott appear this year, which marks the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species. The major novels—The House of Mirth, Summer, and The Age of Innocence—continue to generate enthusiasm, as do The Mother's Recompense, The Glimpses of the Moon, and the short stories. In Morocco is the focus of postcolonial discourse by Lucas Tromly and Lhoussain Simour and receives mention in Mineo Takamura's essay on modernism in The Age of Innocence. Modernism is also usefully examined by Janet Beer and Avril Horner as well as by Margot Louis. Wharton's aesthetics receive attention in several studies on topics that range from material culture and fashion to the ethics of affect. Interdisciplinary studies are notable this year. Alan Bourassa takes a philosophical approach to The House of Mirth, Patrick Mullen a psychological one. Nick Bromell, Ann Patten, Griffith, and Jenny Wahl examine economics, politics, and social practices and theories of democracy.

Willa Cather scholarship this year continued to offer work drawn from the study of new materials: archival, textual, and contextual. [End Page 127] Although Wendy K. Perriman published a critical monograph focused on the whole of Cather's oeuvre, the more significant extended work was drawn from new archival materials as well as the ongoing analyses connected with the production of the MLA-approved Willa Cather Scholarly Edition produced by the University of Nebraska's Cather Project and published by its press. Two more volumes appeared in 2009, leaving 3 novels (of 12) and a volume of Cather's poems forthcoming. The first of these, the story collection Youth and the Bright Medusa (1920), was her first book published by Knopf; it is a hybrid book made of new stories from the late 1910s and others revised and reprinted from her first collection, The Troll Garden (1905). Its scholarship contextualizes just how thoroughly Cather was working to shape herself and her reputation through the novels of the 1910s, especially My Ántonia (1918). Equally, Sapphira and the Slave Girl (1940), her final novel and the second volume published in the edition this year, offers particular riches: its scholarship demonstrates just how completely Cather drew on her girlhood memories of rural Virginia to research and write a novel of deep autobiographical, historical, and fictional complexity. And because there are more draft manuscript and proofs materials available for Sapphira than any other of her books, its textual record is much more complete. Complementing this work is an essay by Ann Moseley, the historical editor of the forthcoming scholarly edition of Cather's third novel, The Song of the Lark (1915), in American Literary Realism (ALR); such were her discoveries that they could not be contained in her historical essay in that forthcoming volume. New archival acquisitions occasioned another important book this year: owing to a major acquisition of materials connected to artists Achsah and Earl Brewster—longtime friends of Edith Lewis and Cather—by Drew University, Lucy Marks and David Porter published a significant guide to what the archives reveal about that friendship. Among the year's critical articles, interest in One of Ours and The Professor's House has continued, with an important article on regionalism, anthropology, and "Tom Outland's Story" by Eric Aronoff of especial note. And although needlessly dense in its critical vocabulary, an article from Kerry Manders offers an exhaustive consideration of the function of the introduction to My Ántonia.

The Wharton section of the chapter is contributed by Carol J. Singley, the Cather section by Robert Thacker. [End Page 128]

i. Edith Wharton

a. Books

Laura Rattray's two-volume The Unpublished Writings of Edith...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2125
Print ISSN
0065-9142
Pages
pp. 127-152
Launched on MUSE
2011-09-14
Open Access
No
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