Edith Wharton is the Original Gossip Girl

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16 October 2009

For some time now, I’ve been trying to make the argument that Edith Wharton (and Henry James, and George Eliot, and Balzac — yes, Balzac, particularly Pere Goriot) are the best “guilty pleasures” you can find in literature. Page-turning sexual tension, female desire and psychology, male desire and psychology, family dysfunction, villains you love to hate and hate to love… it’s all there, and most importantly, one needn’t sacrifice good writing for the pleasure of escape or high emotional drama.

Rebecca Mead on the New Yorker Out Loud podcast is making this argument, too, better than I have.  To anyone who loves Cecily von Ziegesar‘s Gossip Girl series, she recommends giving The House of Mirth –“the real thing” (von Ziegesar is apparently influenced by Wharton) — a try.  Here, here.

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