How Henry James Influenced Edith Wharton Essay

How Henry James Influenced Edith Wharton Essay

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Both the 19th and 20th century authors of Henry James and Edith Wharton are commonly compared to one another and their works are criticized as being close to, if not, the same. For ten years, the two authors had been close friends and even traveled throughout France and Europe together looking for inspiration and new ideas. Wharton had never taken any type of criticism well. Eventually Edith Wharton sent her first written story, “The Line of Least Resistance,” to Henry James and she learned to accept criticism respectfully as one author to another. Henry James soon became a vital literary advisor in some of her most famous works. But soon she began to follow the example of James closely and started to write in his style. This style included the construction of appearances along with a tragic ending. Writing with the manners, customs, and beliefs of the upper class society, also allowed James to question the truth of that society. While including this style in Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton also reflects Henry James’s ideas of an unreliable narrator, through the view of a different gender than that of the author, from The Turn of the Screw. In writing through the mind of another person, Henry James and Edith Wharton both used their knowledge of psychology to influence their works. But while psychology is only a minor influence in Wharton’s work, her texts closely resemble that of an influence from James. Since Henry James was a friend, critic, and mentor to Edith Wharton, her novel Ethan Frome, published in 1911, reflects the influences James had on her writing, especially from his novel The Turn of the Screw, published in 1898.
Henry James was one of the most famous authors of his generation. He was born on April 15, 184...


... middle of paper ...


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"Henry James." The National Portrait Gallery. Smithsonian. Web. 11 Feb. 2012.
Howe, Irving, ed. “On The Reef: A Letter.” Edith Wharton: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1962. Print.
James, Henry. The Turn of the Screw. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1991. Print.
Killoran, Helen. "The Critical Reception of Edith Wharton." Google Books. 2001. Web. 11 Feb. 2012.
Liukkonen, Petri. "Edith Wharton." Books and Writers. Creative Commons, 2008. Web. 14 Feb. 2012.
Powers, Lyall H., ed. Henry James and Edith Wharton: Letters: 1900-1915. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1990. Print.
Wharton, Edith. Ethan Frome. New York: Penguin Group, 2005. Print.

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