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The Age of Innocence

4 2 votes
✒ Author
📖 Pages 538
⏰ Reading time 17 hours 45 minutes
💡 Originally published 1920
🌏 Original language English
📌 Type Novels
📌 Genres Psychological , Realism , Social

Table of contents

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Book I 1
I 1
II 13
III 24
IV 36
V 45
VI 61
VII 75
VIII 86
IX 99
X 121
XI 138
XII 152
XIII 172
XIV 183
XV 195
XVI 212
XVII 228
XVIII 245
Book II 264
XIX 264
XX 282
XXI 302
XXII 324
XXIII 338
XXIV 354
XXV 363
XXVI 379
XXVII 398
XXVIII 410
XXIX 421
XXX 432
XXXI 448
XXXII 468
XXXIII 483
XXXIV 510

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Book I

I.

On a January evening of the early seventies, Christine Nilsson was singing in Faust at the Academy of Music in New York.
Though there was already talk of the erection, in remote metropolitan distances "above the Forties," of a new Opera House which should compete in costliness and splendour with those of the great European capitals, the world of fashion was still content to reassemble every winter in the shabby red and gold boxes of the sociable old Academy.
Conservatives cherished it for being small and inconvenient, and thus keeping out the "new people" whom New York was beginning to dread and yet be drawn to; and the sentimental clung to it for its historic associations, and the musical for its excellent acoustics, always so problematic a quality in halls built for the hearing of music.
It was Madame Nilsson's first appearance that winter, and what the daily press had already learned to describe as "an exceptionally brilliant audience" had gathered to hear her, transported through the slippery, snowy streets in private broughams, in the spacious family landau, or in the humbler but more convenient "Brown coupe."
To come to the Opera in a Brown coupe was almost as honourable a way of arriving as in one's own carriage; and departure by the same means had the immense advantage of enabling one (with a playful allusion to democratic principles) to scramble into the first Brown conveyance in the line, instead of waiting till the cold-and-gin congested nose of one's own coachman gleamed under the portico of the Academy.
It was one of the great livery-stableman's most masterly intuitions to have discovered that Americans want to get away from amusement even more quickly than they want to get to it.
When Newland Archer opened the door at the back of the club box the curtain had just gone up on the garden scene.
There was no reason why the young man should not have come earlier, for he had dined at seven, alone with his mother and sister, and had lingered afterward over a cigar in the Gothic library with glazed black-walnut bookcases and finial-topped chairs which was the only room in the house where Mrs. Archer allowed smoking.
But, in the first place, New York was a metropolis, and perfectly aware that in metropolises it was "not the thing" to arrive early at the opera; and what was or was not "the thing" played a part as important in Newland Archer's New York as the inscrutable totem terrors that had ruled the destinies of his forefathers thousands of years ago.
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Download the free e-book by Edith Wharton, «The Age of Innocence» , in English. You can also print the text of the book. For this, the PDF and DOC formats are suitable.

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