Limites, indétermination et fins dans The House of Mirth d’Edith Wharton

Armelle Parey

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Abstract :
When the last instalment of The House of Mirth was published, the ending apparently caused quite a stir among Edith Wharton’s readers. Apart from Lily Bart’s death, the ending of Wharton’s novel is remarkable for its relative irresolution, especially as the novelist favoured order and coherence and did not believe in the tenets of modernism. This article considers how the partial lack of conclusion participates in Wharton’s overall project of completion. The first part underlines Wharton’s satire of the closed world of Lily’s set. In this context, Lily’s chronic inability to take decisions appears as positive and eventually gives her the aura of a tragic heroine. The third part shows how this tension between controlling limits and floating irresolution is reproduced at the level of the ending : while the novel apparently accumulates closing strategies, these are partially derided, thus formally mounting a challenge to the circumscribing and stifling certainties and conventions ruling « the house of mirth ».
Keywords : irresolution, Edith Wharton, Terence Davies, closure, ending, Guy Larroux
Published : 2018-09-11


Armelle Parey, « Limites, indétermination et fins dans The House of Mirth d’Edith Wharton », Cycnos, 2018-09-11. URL :