Focusing on the works of Edith Wharton and her contemporaries, Melanie Dawson discusses representations of modern American identities past early youth in twentieth-century literature. Dawson sets Wharton’s work at the center of a vital debate about the contested privileges associated with age in contemporary culture.
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The years between 1880 and 1930 are usually seen as a time in which American writers replaced values and traditions of the Victorian era with wholly new works of modernist literature, and the turn of the century is typically used as a dividing line between the old and the new. Challenging this periodization, this volume argues that this entire time span should instead be studied as a coherent and complex literary field.