Sunday, September 13, 2009

The House of Mirth

"The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth."
(Ecclesiastes 7:4)

This is why I don't read the Bible.

The quote comes from notes to Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth, which I've been meaning to read for years. I'm in the middle and loving it so far, although my heart is in the house of graduate student despondency (I'm reading it for an exam).

Unfortunately, I'm one of those people who get influenced by the book's cover when they read. So while there are all those editions with monumental female figures on the stairs or fainting due to excessive femininity, I am lucky to possess this Library of America edition (pictured right), where the "h" reaches somewhat too vigorously into Edith Wharton's nose. In this circumstance, Ms. Wharton's expression seems less tortured by New York society than by intrusive poligraphy, which is reassuring. You can cringe all eternity about society, but if it's not women and marriage, society finds other things to be awful about.

The cover with the triumphant "h" also makes the sense of creative struggle with the word more palpable.

I feel you, Edith Wharton, from far below your creative level. During my irregular visits to the house of blogging confusion, I get this sense of struggle in a less literal way (which my deviated septum greatly appreciates). I'm probably one of the last people to discover the much talked/blogged about style blog written by an eloquent 13-year-old. I hope she does better in combining blogging, doing her homework, and having friends than this English teacher.

I really hope she has friends rather than a book deal.

But back to Lily Bart.

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