Edith Wharton and Poetic Realism: An Impasse

by Tamara S. Evans
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Title:
Edith Wharton and Poetic Realism: An Impasse
Author:
Tamara S. Evans
Year: 
1992
Publication: 
The German Quarterly
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65
Issue: 
3/4
Start Page: 
361
End Page: 
368
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English
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Abstract:

S. EVANS

Queens College, City University of New York

Edith Wharton and Poetic Realism: An impassei

...there is a kind of critic who spends his

time dissecting what he reads for echoes,

imitations, influences, as if no one was

ever simply himself but is always com

pounded by a lot of other people . . .

Wallace Stevens

While Edith Wharton may not have been particularly fond of Germans as a people, it was allegedly an altogether dif- ferent matter when it came to German let- ters. Richard H. Lawson, for instance, believes it is "the image of the Gallicized Edith Wharton of post-World War I that is responsible for the almost complete absence of critical attention to her close relationship to German literature and philosophy," and that it is this image that "has seemingly obscured the significance of the fact that her relationship with German literature was closest precisely when we should suppose her to be most receptive-from childhood through her early and middle creative years.'aIn the following, Ipropose to reopen the case on Edith Wharton and German literature, focusing especially on her recep- tion of Poetic Realism. Who are the authors she read and wrote about? To what extent, if at all, did they exert an influence upon her?

This specific interest in EdithWharton2s exposure to and appreciation of German realism has been kindled by research on Wharton and German 19th- and early 20th- century literature conducted from the late 1950sto the early 1970s. There are the ar- ticles by E. M. and S. B. Puknat and, above all, Lawson's articles and book on Edith Wharton and German literature in which

The German Quarterly 65.3-4 (Summer-Fall1992)

he attempts to demonstrate, with ad- mirable assiduity, influences on her work by such authors as Goethe, Fouqu6, Keller, Sudermann, Nietzsche, and Schnitzlera3 I fully agree with Lawson's remark on the difEculty in relating Edith Wharton ''to any but the more obvious and even then oblique influences which she mentions with some frequency in [her 1934 autobiography] A Baclzward Glance and in The Writing ofFic- tion [1925]'*-these being, most promi- nently, Balzac, Tolstoy, and George Eliot. As has been noted on more than one occasion, A Backward Glance is as notable for what it leaves out as for what it includes, and the same applies to The Writing of Fiction. And yet, Edith Wharton does not strike me as the kind of writer who was forever dallying with the arcane, engaging her willing or not so willing readers in a relentless intertex- tual hide-and-seek. Given the few and, for the most part, casual references to German authors in her fictional as well as nonfic- tional writings, one might, therefore, in- deed wonder whether the influence of Ger- manletters ingeneralandof Poetic Realism in particular was not, all things considered,

une quantite' mgligeable.

It is no secret that Edith Wharton was well acquainted at a relatively early age with the canonized authors from the Middle Ages to late Romanticism. As she tells us herself in A Backward Glance, "Anna Bahlmann, my beloved German teacher,. .. saw which way my fancy turned, and fed it

with the wealth of German literature from the Minnesingers to Heine . . ."5 The title page of her very first publication, Verses (1878), is adorned with a quotation (in English) from BettinaBrentan~.~

However, Edith Wharton's interest in more recent German authors, especially in those who began to publish after 1848, comes as a surprise. In his monograph on Gottfried Keller, Hermann Boeschenstein mentions that Edith Wharton had written the intro- duction to AVillage Romeoand Juliet,Anna Bahlmann's translationofRomeound Julia auf dem Dorfe. In one sentence, Boeschen- stein not only praised Wharton's sensitive comments in the introduction but, most likely drawing on Lawson, also claimed that she had modified the motif of Keller's novel-

is because they have so little realism that they resemble nothing on earth or under it.40

In America, literary interest in Ger- many, at a high in the 1830s and 1840s,ll faded with the rise of the realistic and naturalistic schools, and "at the close of the century presented conspicuous gaps . . ."I2 Given this generally ambivalent and inter- mittent reception of German poetic realism abroad, Edith Wharton's knowledge of Keller's biography, as it unfolds in her "In- troduction" to A Village Romeo and Juliet, her admiration of his prose, and her most accurate account of his reception are indeed astounding. She draws attention to the fact that Keller's first publications, the ones she was most fond of (i.e., Die Leute von Seld-

la in her New England tale, Etlzun Fr~me.~ wyla as well as Der grune Heinrich), were

We know that the best of Poetic halism was slow in gaining recognition even at home. It is part of that kind of artistic production which Thomas Mann, in a dif- ferent context, described as "so speziell und intim deutsch . . .,daB sie . . .eben nur im 'Heimlichen' zu wirken und Verehrung zu erzeugen vermag-und der europaischen, der Weltmaglichkeit entbehrt.'9 More often than not, critics have treated Poetic Realism like the stepchild among the na- tional literatures of 19th-century realism; in discussions of the period, German authors are typically given short shrift when compared with their better known and, as the argument goes, more accomplished contemporaries in England, France, and Russia. To wit George Henry Lewes who, in his 1858 survey of recent German fiction for the Westminster Reuiew, considered 'the novels of Germany. ..singularly inferior to those of France and England." Although he had much kinder things to say about the Gennan novella, and despite his high praise of Keller's Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe, in which he deemed certain descriptions "worthy ofBal- zac," Lewes closed his review on an al- together negative note: 'lf German novels are, for the most part, dreary inflictions, it "unread and unbought by the many" at home; she deplores the fact that Keller's fame, even after he was finally recognized as "a master ofmodern prose,"did "not cross . . . the borders of the German-speaking lands," and speculates that the complex beauty of his prose, which does not lend itself easily to translation into other lan- guages, may well account for this.13 As for A Village Romeo and Juliet, she calls it an "immortal tale told in terms that will bear comparison with its prototype," and judges

it "on a level with Balzac's 'La Grande- BretBche' and Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich'," i.e, with the very same tales which a decade later, in The Writing ofFiction, she will single out repeatedly for their perfec- tion-without ever mentioning Keller's name again in this context.14

Judgingby Lawson's work, the influence of Gottfried Keller on Edith Wharton was considerable. Nonetheless, I have become increasingly skeptical of his findings. For instance, Lawson thinks that Wharton's reading of Keller probably goes back to her childhood.15 But he forgets that Romeo und Juliaaufdem Dorfe was not exactlywritten for the edification of children and could not easily have made it past the censorship of Lucretia Jones, Edith Wharton's formidable mother, who would have agreed with G. H. Lewes when he referred his male readers to Keller's novella and thought it vexatious "that a man of genius should write a story which, because of a few sen- tences that might perfectly well have been omitted without destroying the interest of reality of the picture, cannot be read aloud in the family circle."l6 It is just as likely that Edith Wharton took cognizance of Keller at a later date, for, at least according to one critic, Keller "had the'rare lot'of being made known abroad through the French Revue des deux mondes, which introduced him as the single example of a German writer of novels of society," an assessment that could have been made, at the earliest, upon the 1886 publication of Mcwtin Salander.17 In fact, we only know that Edith Wharton was well familiar with Keller's oeuvre by 1914, the publication date of Anna Bahlmann's translation, but we simply do not know when Edith Wharton discovered Keller. Thus, the influence ofRomeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe upon Ethan Frome (1911) remains, in my mind, altogether specula-

tive.18

However, the many matching thematic and narrative details that Lawson un- covered in his painstaking intertextual study of Keller's novella, on the one hand, and Wharton's 1917 novel Summer, on the other, seem to support his claim that the latter is an unconscious assimilation of the former. Indeed, to givejust a few of Lawson's examples, Charity Royal1 and Vrenchen have similar looks; both like nice clothes; both are passionate and wish to escape from their villages; Charity's white satin shoes serve a symbolic function similar to that of the shoes Vrenchen receives from Sali, etc. Nevertheless, such parallels strike me as incidentals providing circumstantial evi- dence at best that Romeo und Julia had "a clear influence" on Summer.19 The fact remains that irreconcilable differences stand in the way of a lasting relationship between Charity and Lucius Harney; that they are not the "star-cross'd lovers" of Keller's tale (or its prototype) whose parents are caught up in a family feud the consequences of which will inevitably bring about their destruction. Whereas Harney will eventually marry Annabel Balch, and Charity will settle for what Lawson quite fittingly calls "a social and amorous com- promise," Keller's Sali and Vrenchen make a suicide pact and die by dro~ning.2~

Furthermore, the socio-historical reasons that are responsible for marginalizing certain groups ofpeople in Keller's Switzerland and Wharton's New England, respectively, should not be confused. There is a world of difference between the mountain outlaws in their drunken stupor, who have fled or avoided the middle-class world of North Dormer, and those ragged and disenfranchised folks who, according to Swiss law, had no right to settle in a community because they were poor and owned no property.

I would also like to draw attention to the fact that, insummer, Edith Wharton's tone and her lexical choices quite plainly defy Keller's aesthetics on at least one crucial count. To wit the following excerpts:

. . . Charity could not even make out what relationship these people bore to each other, or to her dead mother; they seemed to be herded together in a sort of passive promiscuity in which their common misery was their strongest link. She tried to picture to herself what her life would have been if she had grown up on the Mountain, running wild in rags, sleeping on the floor curled up against her mother, like the pale-faced children huddled against old Mrs. Hyatt, and turning into a fierce bewildered creature like the girl who had apostrophized her in such strange words.

Despite the Dionysian and chthonic associations, Keller's homeless people present a rather different sight:

One of these was a young fellow in a green corduroy jacket, who had wreathed his battered straw hat with the berries of the

mountain ash. With him was a wild-look- ing girl in a skirt of cherry-colored cotton. She wore a garland of vine leaves about her head, and bunches of blue grapes dangled at her temples. . . . When [the moon] stood high enough to send its radiance through the arches the dance began again, as gaily and decently as though the hall had been lit by a hundred wax candles. 21

Edith Wharton's explicit and crass portrayal of "the savage misery of the Mountain farmers" has little in common with Keller's Poetic Realism which, in his own words, was committed to tellingnot simply what is true, but '%hat is true and beautiful"; her nat- uralistic strokes run counter to his 'veiling' techniques aimed at concealing drastic events and scenes behind idealizing lan- guage and his (proverbial) humorous tone.22

Reading Summer leads to a dkjltlu ex- perience that points to different texts and, above all, to a different author-namely, Theodor Fontane. Although Fontane's name occurs neither inA Backward Glance nor in The Writing of Fiction; although Edith Wharton's library apparently con- tained none of his novels; and although she never mentioned him in her correspon- dence or private papers, it is hard to im- agine that a writer of Fontane's stature, who like herself had dealt with social decadence and irony, and was "conversant with imperfect happiness and relinquished dreams," should have escaped her atten- ti0n.2~ After all, Edith Wharton had kept up-to-date on German authors certainly until the outbreak of World War I. Didn't she, in her letters, mention reading Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, seeing Hofmannsthal's Electra performed in Lon- don, and having a taste for Wagnerian opera? Didn't Schnitzler's Liebelei move her, as did Clara Viebig's novel Das ttigliche Brot? And if Lawson argued that Edith Wharton named Verena Marsh in Summer after Keller's ~renchenF4 why not then, by the same token, consider the name of Wharton's Effie, Anna Leath's daughter in The Reef (1912), a hidden homage to Fontane's Effi Briest?

Both structurally and thematically, Summer seems to parallel Fontane's Irrun- gen, Wirrungen. The social gap between Charity Royal1 and Lucius Harney, their excursion to nearby Nettleton situated right in the middle of the novel, Harney's cowardice, and Charity's final compromise bear a striking resemblance to the mesalliance of Lene Nimptsch and Botho von Rienacker, their outing to Hankels Ablage occupying the novel's central chap- ters, Botho's change of mind (if'not of heart) and his resigned marriage to his cousin, as well as Lene's marriage to Gideon Franke, a middle-aged foreman and lay preacher. Other Wharton texts also point to Fontane as a seemingly possible source of influence. His keen interest in the changing class structures of late 19th-century Berlin and Prussia, together with his fond yet gently ironic and critical portrait of the conserva- tive landed aristocracy threatened by vul- gar nouveaux riches towards the end of the Bismarck era in such novels asFrau Jenny Deibel, Effi Briest, and Der Stechlin, is paralleled by Wharton's portrayal of the decline of Old New York and the rise of the "Invaders" in The House of Mirth, The Cus- tom of the Country, and The Age of In- nocence. In The Custom of the Country, Un- dine Spragg's pretentiousness, "the result . . . of a failure of ~elf-ap~raisal,"2~

finds its counterpart in the phoniness of Jenny Treibel, asocial climber whom Schmidt, her slighted suitor of yesteryear, describes as follows:

Es ist eine geghrliche Person und urn so gefahrlicher, als sie's selbst nicht recht wein und sich aufrichtig einbildet, ein gef~lvollesHerz . . . zu haben. Aber sie hat nur ein Herz fiir das Ponderable, fi alles was ins Gewicht fallt und Zins tragt . . .

The thoughts of Undine's wealthy lover, Peter van Degen, turned in a similar direc- tion when it came over him that Undine would simply ignore him if he were dying. "And after that," as a friend tells an uncom- prehending Undine, "he never felt the same to you."

Some details in The Age of Innocence capturing Newland and May Archer's courtship and marriage read likevariations of Botho and &the Rienacker's life in Irrungen, Wzrrungen. Summing up Archer's honeymoon, the narrator makes the follow- ing devastatingly ironic remarks:

In London nothing interested her but the theaters and the shops; and she found the theaters less exciting than the Paris cafh chantants where. . . she had had the novel experience of looking down from the res- taurant terrace on an audience of "co- cottes," and having her husband interpret to her as much of the songs as he thought suitable for bridal ears.

While May worries about what to wear, Archer longs to get to the National Gallery "to catch a glimpse of the pictures."

Although more bubbly and superficial, Gthe shares some important personality traits with May. Both women make easy and pleasant companions, but they are ut- terly conventional and filled with the prejudices of their class. They lack imagina- tion and will probably never change. Returning from their honeymoon, Botho would like to know what she had enjoyed most during their stay in Dresden:

'Vnd nun sage mir, Kiithe, was war eigentlich das Hiibscheste hier in Dres- den?"

'Rate."

"Ja, das ist schwer, denn du hast so deinen eignen Geschmack, und mit Kir- chengesang und Holbeinscher Madonna darf ich dir gar nicht kommen."

Gthe tells him that there were three things she had really enjoyed. First and foremost, "die Konditorei am Altmarkt"; second, the open-air theater where they watched a farce cal1ed"Monsieur Herkules"; and, finally, two paintings at the museum, 'Bacchus aufdem ZiegenbocK' and "Der sich kratzende Hund." No matter how tenderly and lovingly Botho looked at his young wife, this conversation, Fontane tells us,left anguished reverbera- tions in his soul. His young wife, however, had no notion of what went on in her husband's soul and merely said: 'lch bin miide, Botho. Die vielen Bilder . . . "

Both husbands, prior to and following their wedding, are deeply in love with another woman: von Rienacker with Lene Nimptsch; Newland Archer with Ellen Olenska. In the end, however, both remain faithful to their wives, convincing them- selves that they must act according to the rules of the class they belong to. If the price of breaking out and living life would have been, in the vein of Schopenhauer, too high, so, too, is the price of renunciation. Both know that the best of life-call it happiness or, in Newland Archer's words, "the flower of life"-has passed them by, and thus they live on-to be sure, "with commendable dig- nity and style.'96

In contradistinction to Edith Wharton, Theodor Fontane was a liberal. While he had a certain fondness for the junkers soon to be dinosaurs (to quote his Stechlin), he also expressed a certain, if cautious, sympathy for the socialists. Fontane sensed that the old ways would have to yield, and he accepted those inevitable changes with "verbindliche Unverbindlichkeit." Perhaps he had less to lose than Edith Wharton, who spread her interests and empathies not as generously across the social spectrum. Even his social upstarts, as unsavory as some of them may be, are lent an ear and treated more gently than in Wharton's novels.

Looking for possible affinities of style, it is tempting to argue that dialogue fulfills the same dynamic function within their novels, that characters often reveal their true nature in conversation, and that talk is the very vehicle of plot development. Theodor Fontane and Edith Wharton had indeed similar views on the relationship be-

tween dialogue and the authorial voice. In a critique of Achim von Arnim's Die Kronenwtichter, Fontane complained "daJ3 die Menschen . . . immer das sagen [miissen], was A. v. Arnim gerade sagen will; ob sie's iiberhaupt kcnnen, geniert ihn ~enig."~'According to Edith Wharton, too, whatever people in fiction say to each other, it must be "in a language, and with argu- ments, that appear to be all their own.''28 Edith Wharton, however, uses dialogue much more sparingly, and she might have rebuked Fontane for writing what she calledl'talked"novels, filled as they are with small talk and platitudes next to sparkling bons mots, all of them integral parts of realism asFontane conceived it.29

In light of the affinities and parallels mentioned so far (and despite the differ- ences), one may safely conclude that the same zeitgeist permeates their works, and that certain patterns and constellations are bound to recur in their novels. It is no leger- demain to claim that, in some important respects, and despite their altogether dif- ferent political traditions, America after the Civil War and Germany after the founding of the Second Empire were similar so- cieties-not only in terms of their rapidly expanding economies but also in terms of the manners and morals adhered to by the conservative upper classes treated in Fontane's and Wharton's novels.30 Above and beyond, however, their novels are fre- quently compared to, and considered reminiscent of, the works of Jane Austen, Thackeray, George Eliot, and Trollope, among others.31 Thus, the similarities ob- served in the novels of Fontane and Whar- ton are perhaps best explained by their com- mon reading experiences, especially in British fiction. Most likely, their use of the name of Effi(e), for instance, has its source in Walter Scott's 1818 novel, The Heart of Midlothian, and Wharton's use of the name in The Reef should not be considered a tribute to Fontane.

Without even considering such ramifi- cations as suggested in Harold Bloom's Anxiety of Influence or, even more appropriately, in Sandra Gilbert and Nancy Gubar's Madwoman in the Attic, utinost caution is called for when attempting in- fluence studies.32 Edith Wharton's connec- tion with German Poetic Realism appears rather casual and random. While she cer- tainly admired Gottfried Keller, I have come to the conclusion that none of her works was as significantly influenced by him as has been claimed in the past. Despite general agreement nowadays that Fontane was an outstanding representative of Euro- pean realism, his reputation, like Keller's, established itself only slowly at home, his reception abroad remained slight, and genuine efforts to make him available to English-language readers did not really

start before the 1960s.~~

There is no proof that Edith Wharton had read Fontane. But that she should have read him, lot is a con- summation devoutly to be wished."

Notes

lMy research was supported by a grant from The City University of New York PSC-CUNY Research Award Program. A shorter version of this text was read at the Annual Meeting of the AATG in Baden-Baden, 21 July 1992.

%chard H. Lawson, Edith Wharton and German Literature (Bonn: Bouvier, 1974) 14. jSiegfried B. Puknat, 'Mencken and the Su- dermann Case,"Monutshefte 51 (1959): 183-89; E.

M. and S. B. Puknat, "American Encounters with Rilke," Monatshefte 60 (1968): 245-55; E. M. Puknat and S. B. Puknat, "Edith Wharton and Gottfried Keller," Comparative Literature 21 (1969): 245-54. Lawson, Edith Wharton and German Literature; two chapters were published previously as journal articles: "Hermann Suder- mann and Edith Wharton," Revue de litte'rature comparge 41 (1967): 125-31; "The Influence of Gottfried Keller on Edith Wharton," Revue de littgrature comparke 42 (1968): 366-79. See also Richard H. Lawson, "Gesellschaft als Verbin- dungselement zwischen den Seldwyla-Novellen Gottfried Kellers und den Romanen Edith Whar- tons," Sprache, Dichtung, Gesellschafi: Akten des n?Internutionden Germanisten-Kongresses 1970 in Princeton (Frankfurt a. M.: Athenaum, 1970) 265-71 and "Thematic Similarities in Edith

Wharton and Thomas Mann," Twentieth Century Literature 23 (1977): 28%98. 4Lawson,Edith Wharton and German Litera- ture 23. 5Edith Wharton, A Backward Glance (New York: Appleton, 1934) 48.

Qettina Brentano, whose Goethes Briefiuech- sel mit einem Kinde was published in English in 1839, had been enthusiastically received by the New England Transcendentalists, first and fore- most by Margaret Fuller. For details, see Sigrid Bauschinger, Die Posaune der Reform: Deutsche Literatur im Neuengland des 19. Jahrlzunderts (Bern: Francke, 1989). More than fiRy years later, Wharton quoted Goetheon thetitlepageofA Backward Glance.

'IGottfried Keller, A Village Romeo and Juliet, trans. A. C. Bahlmann with an intro. by Edith Wharton (New York: Scribner's, 1914).

*Hermann Boeschenstein, Gottfiied Keller (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1969) 132. 9Thomas Mann, "Sufferine and Greatness of Richard Wagner," Essays of Three Decades, trans.

H. T. Lowe-Porter (New York: Knopf, 1947) 348f.

loGeorge Henry Lewes, 'Xealism in Art: Recent German Fiction," Westminster Review 70 (July-October 1858): 500, 518. Sadly enough, con- temporary German fiction does not fare better, either: see "Gedankenschwere Nabelschau," Der Spiegel(16March 1992): 258-63.

llSee Bauschinger, Die Posaune der Reform.

12~enryAugust Pochmann, German Culture in America (Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1957) 340. See also Martin Henry Haertel, Ge~.martLiterature in American Magazines, 1846-1880 (Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1906); Scott Holland Goodnight,

German Literature in American Magazines prior to 1846, Bulletin of the University of Wisconsin, Philosophy and Literature Series, vol. 4, 1908 (Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1909); Bayard Quincy Morgan,A Critical Bibliography of Germwt Liter- ature in English lFanslation: 1841-1927. Mth Supplement Embracing the Years 1928-1935 (Palo Alto: Stanford UP, 1938); Inga E. Mullen, Germwr Realism in the United States: The America.n Recep- tion of Meyer, Storm, Raabe, Keller and Fontarre

(New York: Lang, 1988). 13~eller,A Village Romeo and Juliet xii-xvi. 14~Kllage Romeo and Juliet xix-xx; Edith

Wharton, The Writing of Fiction (New York: Octagon, 1966) 92, 104. 15Lawson,Edith Wharton and German Litera- ture 64.

16Lewes 517.

17Quoted in Mullen, German Redism in the United States 33.As for Edith Wharton readingthe Revue des dewcmondes, see PaulBourget'sportrait of "the intellectual tomboy," for which she allegedly stood model, as quoted in Louis Auchinclose, Edith Whcv-ton: AWoman in Her llme (NewYork: Vlking, 1971) 52.

18~otonly Lawson's arguments remain hypo- thetical. I am equally skeptical of the speculations in E. M. Puknat and S. B. Puknat, "Edith Wharton and Gottfried Keller."

lgLawson,Edith Wharton and German Litera-

ture 72. 2oIbid. 58. 211 am quoting from Anna Bahlmann's trans-

lation, A Village Romeo and Juliet 135-37.

22In this context, Blake Nevius's remarks con- cerning Edith Wharton and naturalism are espe- cially revealing. According to him, Edith Wharton "never rode determinism as a thesis . . ."But "na- turalism allies itselfconveniently-and, if need be, temporarily-with a personal mood of despair, and I think it likely that this is what happened in Mrs. Wharton's case. The mood renews itself peri- odically, but except in Summer (1917) it is never so strong again as in The House of Mirth" (Edith Wharton: A Study of Her Fiction [Berkeley: U of California P, 19531 58).

Looking ahead to my comments on Edith Wharton and Theodor Fontane, I would like to add the following. While there are thematic affinities between The House of Mirth and Effi Briest, Fontane-true to the dictates of Poetic Realism- avoids the most sordid details of Effi's expulsion from her family. He spares his character from com- mitting violence to herself in the manner of Lily Bart who takes an overdose; instead, Effi quietly fades away from consumption. Then again, Ralph Marvell's suicide in The Custom of the Country (published between The House of Mirth and Summer) is treated with a discretion comparable to Fontane's who avoids givinghis readers the gory details of Schach von Wuthenow's suicide. Both men, one might add, shoot themselves.

23~ynthiaGriffin Wolff, AFeast of Words: The Tbiumph of Edith Wharton (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1977) 9.

24~awson,Edith Wharton and German Liter- ature 59.

25Nevius 153. See also Auchincloss 101.

26~uchincloss 138. See also Nevius 119. The position taken by Madame de Carayon in Fontane's novel Schach uon Wuthenow is compa- rable to the standards of Wharton's Old New York: Ych gehBre der Gesellschaft an, deren Bedingun- gen ich erfiille, deren Gesetzen ich mich unterwerfe; daraufhin bin ich enogen, und ich habe nicht Lust, einer Opfermarotte meiner einzig geliebten Tochter zuliebe meine gesellschaftliche Stellung zum Opfer zu bringen." She fully expects Schach, who seduced her daughter and got her pregnant, to abide by this code and to marry the young but disfigured Vidoire.

WQuoted in Hans-Heinrich Reuter, Fontane (Munich.. Nymphenburger, 1968) 979. Interesting- ly enough, given our context, Reuter points out that Fontane repeatedly compared Gotffried Kellerwith Achimvon Amim,and he did not mean it as a compliment.

28~

Backward Glance 203. 29~heWriting ofRction 72. Sosee Eric J. Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire

1875-1914 (New York: Vintage, 1989). 31Peter Demetz in Theodor Fontane, Short Noveb and Other Mtings (NewYork: Continuum, 1982)xvi. See also Norbert Fuerst, The Victorian Age of German Litemture: Eight Essays (University Park: Penn State UP, 1966) 161.

32~eeHarold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence (New York: Oxford UP, 1973); Sandra M. Gilbert and Nancy Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination (New Haven: Yale UP, 1984) andNo Man's Land.The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century (New Haven: Yale UP, 1988). See also Barbara Lide's critical review, "Edith Wharton and German Literature. By Richard H. Lawson," Journal of English and Germanic Philology 76 (1977): 278-80.

33Edith H. Krause, Theodor Fontane: Eine re- zeptionsgeschichtliche und ubersetzungskritische Untersuchung (Bern: Lang, 1989) 1.See also H. R. Klineberger, The Novel in England and Germany: A Compcuative Study (London: WOE, 1981) 180.

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