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Edith Wharton
American novelist

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I despair of the Republic!... What a horror it is for a whole nation to be developing without a sense of beauty, and eating bananas for breakfast.
-- On the United States, in a letter to Sara Norton, 19 August 1904

She was like a disembodied spirit who took up a good deal of room.
-- The House of Mirth (1905), bk. 1, ch. 2

If I were shabby no one would have me: a woman is asked out as much for her clothes as for herself.
-- The House of Mirth (1905), ch. 1

She keeps on being Queenly in her own room, with the door shut.
-- The House of Mirth (1905), bk. 2, ch. 1

Drop 30 percent of your Latinisms... mow down every old cliche, uproot all the dragging circumlocutions, compress, diversify, clarify, & you'll make a book that will be read and talked of.
-- Letter to W. Morton Fullerton, 24 March 1910, published in: The Letters of Edith Wharton, R. B. W. Lewis and Nancy Lewis, ed. (1988)

Mrs Ballinger is one of the ladies who pursue Culture in bands, as though it were dangerous to meet it alone.
-- Xingu and Other Stories (1916), 'Xingu'

The worst of doing one's duty was that it apparently unfitted one for doing anything else.
-- The Age of Innocence (1920)

An unalterable and unquestioned law of the musical world required that the German text of French operas sung by Swedish artists should be translated into Italian for the clearer understanding of English-speaking audiences.
-- The Age of Innocence (1920), bk. 1, ch. 1

What can you expect of a girl who was allowed to wear black satin at her coming-out ball.
-- The Age of Innocence (1920), bk. 1, ch. 5

There is no such thing as old age, there is only sorrow.
-- A Backward Glance (1934), 'A First Word'

What is writing a novel like? The beginning: a ride through a spring wood. The middle: The Gobi desert. The end: going down the cresta run... I am now (p. 166 of "The Buccaneers") in the middle of the Gobi desert.
-- Diary entry, 1934, as quoted in a letter to Bernard Berenson, 12 Janaury 1937. Published in The Letters of Edith Wharton, R. B. W. Lewis and Nancy Lewis, ed. (1988)

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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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