The Big Read Blog (Archive)

The Age of Innocence

May 15, 2009 Washington, DC Yesterday, the Arts Endowment announced 11 new NEA National Heritage Fellows , the best of the best of the nation?s artists working in the folk and traditional arts. Tradition is at the heart of many of the Big Read titles, from the rigid etiquette of ?Old New York? in...
March 23, 2009 Washington, DC In all the justifiable frenzy attending Kelleys Island?s steady march toward getting all 128 islanders to read To Kill a Mockingbird , let?s not overlook some fine work going on in a few other burgs. Just across a few acre-feet of Lake Erie, for example, the Erie...
February 5, 2009 Washington, DC With New York "Fashion Week" a mere 10 days away, here?s a stylish snippet from that most soigné of Old New York chroniclers, Edith Wharton. We join the action just a couple of paragraphs into Chapter 12 of The Age of Innocence , when Newland Archer pays a visit to...
October 9, 2008 Washington, DC At center of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence is Newland Archer, a prototypical late-19th?century New York City lawyer. He must choose between two ways of life, symbolized by May and her cousin Ellen. Archer's feelings toward the two women are deftly sketched by...
February 15, 2008 Washington, DC Things ain?t what they used to be. Adam and Eve expelled from Paradise. The Dodgers leaving Vero Beach. Warren Zevon dead. Reading down. The list goes on. There?s a word for this type of melancholy, and it isn?t griping. It?s elegy, from the Greek elegos , meaning a...
August 24, 2007 Washington, DC When I was in graduate school at San Diego State University, I took a seminar in Edith Wharton and Willa Cather that changed my life. The course changed me because it provided the chance to concentrate on the best novels of two truly exceptional writers; to compare...
August 9, 2007 Washington, DC No two people ever read the same book. Partly, this is because few people ever read the same two books in a row. Every book we read, we also read juxtaposed against the book before and the one after. For example, if you read the first 21st-century novel on the Big Read...

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