Edith Wharton

(24 January 1862 – 11 August 1937 / New York City / United States)

Edith Wharton Quotes

  • ''There's no such thing as old age, there is only sorrow.''
    Edith Wharton (1862-1937), U.S. author. "A First Word," A Backward Glance (1934).
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  • ''I am secretly afraid of animals.... I think it is because of the usness in their eyes, with the underlying not-usness which belies it, and is so tragic a reminder of the lost age when we human beings branched off and left them: left them to eternal inarticulateness and slavery. Why? their eyes seem to ask us.''
    Edith Wharton (1862-1937), U.S. author; later relocated to France. Part 6. As quoted in Edith Wharton, by R.W.B. Lewis (1975). From a journal entry dated 1924.
  • ''The American landscape has no foreground and the American mind no background.''
    Edith Wharton (1862-1937), U.S. author; relocated to France. As quoted in Edith Wharton, ch. 9, by R. W. B. Lewis (1985). In a letter written to her friend Sara Norton in the early 1900s.
  • ''... how I understand that love of living, of being in this wonderful, astounding world even if one can look at it only through the prison bars of illness and suffering! Plus je vois, the more I am thrilled by the spectacle.''
    Edith Wharton (1862-1937), U.S. author; relocated to France. As quoted in Edith Wharton, ch. 9, by R. W. B. Lewis (1985). In a letter written to her friend Sara Norton in spring 1906, commenting on a mutual friend who was seriously ill yet still spirited.
  • ''When people ask for time, it's always for time to say no. Yes has one more letter in it, but it doesn't take half as long to say.''
    Edith Wharton (1862-1937), U.S. author. Judith, in The Children, ch. 25 (1928).
  • ''A New York divorce is in itself a diploma of virtue.''
    Edith Wharton (1862-1937), U.S. author. The Descent of Man, ch. 1 (1904).
  • ''I despair of the Republic! Such dreariness, such whining sallow women, such utter absence of the amenities, such crass food, crass manners, crass landscape!!... What a horror it is for a whole nation to be developing without the sense of beauty, & eating bananas for breakfast.''
    Edith Wharton (1862-1937), U.S. author. letter, Aug. 19, 1904, to Sara Norton, daughter of distinguished scholar Charles Eliot Norton. The Letters of Edith Wharton (1988).
  • ''I wonder, among all the tangles of this mortal coil, which one contains tighter knots to undo, & consequently suggests more tugging, & pain, & diversified elements of misery, than the marriage tie.''
    Edith Wharton (1862-1937), U.S. author. letter, Feb. 12, 1909. The Letters of Edith Wharton (1988).
  • ''How much longer are we going to think it necessary to be "American" before (or in contradistinction to) being cultivated, being enlightened, being humane, & having the same intellectual discipline as other civilized countries? It is really too easy a disguise for our shortcomings to dress them up as a form of patriotism!''
    Edith Wharton (1862-1937), U.S. author. Letter, July 19, 1919. The Letters of Edith Wharton (1988).
  • ''I have never known a novel that was good enough to be good in spite of its being adapted to the author's political views.''
    Edith Wharton (1862-1937), U.S. author. Letter, August 19, 1927, to novelist and socialist Upton Sinclair. The Letters of Edith Wharton (1988).

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Best Poem of Edith Wharton

A Failure

(She Speaks.)

I MEANT to be so strong and true!
The world may smile and question, When?
But what I might have been to you
I cannot be to other men.
Just one in twenty to the rest,
And all in all to you alone, -
This was my dream; perchance 'tis best
That this, like other dreams, is flown.

For you I should have been so kind,
So prompt my spirit to control,
To win fresh vigor for my mind,
And purer beauties for my soul;
Beneath your eye I might have grown
To that divine, ideal height,
Which, mating wholly with your own,
Our equal ...

Read the full of A Failure

A Grave

Though life should come
With all its marshalled honours, trump and drum,
To proffer you the captaincy of some
Resounding exploit, that shall fill
Man’s pulses with commemorative thrill,
And be a banner to far battle days
For truths unrisen upon untrod ways,
What would your answer be,
O heart once brave?

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