Edith Wharton and the Visual Arts by Emily J. Orlando

Edith Wharton and the Visual Arts

Emily J. Orlando
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Details

Annotation

Explores the author's concern with a 19th-century visual culture that limited female artistic agency and expression.

Publisher Description

This work explores Edith Wharton's career-long concern with a 19th-century visual culture that limited female artistic agency and expression. Wharton repeatedly invoked the visual arts - especially painting - as a medium for revealing the ways that women's bodies have been represented (as passive, sexualized, infantilized, sickly, dead). Well-versed in the Italian masters, Wharton made special use of the art of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, particularly its penchant for producing not portraits of individual women but instead icons onto whose bodies male desire is superimposed.

Review
“In this meticulously researched study of Wharton's novels and short stories, Orlando makes a convincing argument for the ways in which Wharton enacted, through her work, a 'cultural critique that transcends the literary arts.' Thanks to Orlando's impressive knowledge of art history and of Wharton scholarship, this volume secures an understanding of Wharton's place as one of 'American literature's most gifted inter-textual realists.' One leaves this book with a more thorough understanding of Wharton's engagement with the visual arts as well as deeper insight into her complex, often-misunderstood relationship to the representation of women and the emerging feminism of her day. A distinguished contribution to Wharton scholarship.”—“Choice”

Author Biography

Emily J. Orlando teaches English at Fairfield University.

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Edith Wharton and the Visual Arts