Inclusions and Omissions in Edith Wharton’s Library

July 27, 2020

At Lapham’s Quarterly, Sheila Liming browses the bookshelves at Edith Wharton’s estate in Lenox, Mass., where Wharton owned books by H.G. Wells, James Joyce, George Sand, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, all celebrated authors who weren’t bestsellers during her day. “After traveling the globe following her death in 1937, Wharton’s books—or at least the 2,700 of them that remain—came home to the Mount in 2006, after being sold by a British collector who had reassembled her library,” Liming writes. “These books have much to say about the person who was Edith Wharton, but particularly about the reader behind the enormously successful author who was Edith Wharton. They show us her wide-ranging and seemingly paradoxical interests in subjects like evolutionary science, religious history, and pragmatist philosophy—but so too do they reveal omissions she elected as a reader.”

Image credit: The World’s Work

is a writer and illustrator. She is the author of two illustrated books, Last Night's Reading (Penguin Books, 2015) and Sanpaku (Archaia 2018).

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