305–Innocence is Knotty


Mother, knitter, spinner, writer, wife, weaver, host...not necessarily in that order...

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29 Responses

  1. Gemma says:

    Ok, I’m a couple of episodes behind, but the use of flowers in this episode really grabbed me (it may just be that I’m a bit obsessed with scented flowers at the moment)–Newland and May both wear a gardenia and May carries a bouquet of lily-of-the-valley. Both flowers are white and scented, but very different. A quick internet search on “The Language of Flowers” (although this may have just been a British thing, I don’t know) brought up something interesting–one of the interpretations of gardenia is “secret love”. That both Newland and May are wearing one suggests to me that he sent her the gardenia as a hint about their (as yet unannounced) engagement. The interpretations of lily-of-the-valley tend towards “sweetness” and “humility”. I wonder who would have bought these for May (given the amount of blushing she does in this episode, it seems that the sender may have been May herself, or someonbe who understands her better than Archer does. That said, it may have been Archer- lily-of-the-valley is apparently a traditional French love-token).

    My own experience of gardenias (having tried in vain to keep one alive on my windowsill) is that they are extremely high maintenance, and (in my view) much showier than the lily-of-the-valley (which, by all accounts, is a lot simpler). Newland seems to be quite high-maintenance and showy himself (hence his desire to broadcast his engagement in front of all of old New York society). Whether May is (in common with her lily-of-the-valley) as ostentatious herself remains to be seen.

  2. Chris E says:

    While I didn’t fall in love with Age of Innocence until well into adulthood, I did fall for Gounod’s Faust in high school. There are lots of excerpts on YouTube, and a full length recording (with Spanish subtitles) featuring some major stars from the 1980s.

  3. Evelyn says:

    I’ve just discovered Craftlit and am enjoying my first listen! Thanks so much. I think you will be one of my favories.

  4. Stephanie says:

    I am so excited for this book. I have enjoyed the Edith Wharton that I have read, The House of Mirth.

  5. I listened to the first two chapters again this morning, and wanted to comment on “Faust.” I believe the reference is to Gounod’s opera, which is only loosely based on Goethe’s play, although I can’t find reference to the specific aria that Mr. Archer hears upon his arrival. There’s lots of information about the opera, and particularly it’s New York performance, available online.

    • Heather says:

      I did finally find references to the New York performance and some clips of the music (I think the correct aria). I know they do it in the Scorsese movie, too. I’m linking out from the eBook as I go. I hope to make that available this week. Fingers crossed!

  6. I remember having to read Ethan Frome as a sophomore in high school. It made no impression on me at all, but, to be fair, neither did most literature at that point in my life. I was a science nerd from bottom to top, and literature was just a graduation requirement. I’m glad to say I’ve matured since then.

    I’m glad that I didn’t read Age of Innocence as a young person; I probably would have thought it was a bunch of archaic nonsense. But reading/listening now, I realize I’ve been dealing with this kind of class snobbery all my life. I went to a posh prep school (on scholarship) with kids from the families with the right names, and wondered why I never fit in. I had been taught that anyone could be and do anything if they worked hard enough, and as long as you were talking about employment, that was true enough. But socially I would never be anything but “that kid from the trailer park,” even though I wouldn’t hear the word “trailer trash” for several more years. It didn’t matter that my family had been in the New World since the early 1600’s; whatever money they had was long gone, and with it went the social standing.

    When I moved to the South I found the same thing, just under a different guise. I used to say “If my grandmother didn’t go to school with your grandmother I will never matter” without truly appreciating how true that was. The fact that I’m not “from around here” is seldom mentioned, but I’m reminded of it at least once a week, and I’ve been living in this same Arkansas town for over 10 years.

    Listening to this book may prove to be painful for me, but I still thank you for bringing it to me and all the rest of the Craftlit family. I think its time has come, at least for me.

  7. I just found your podcast a month ago and PLOWED through Jane Eyre, finishing on Friday. I am having Jane withdrawals and per your early recommendation, picked up Fforde’s The Eyre Affair because I miss my friends! 🙂 I am so glad to be listening “live” to this new book!

    Regarding Age of Innocence, my husband and I recently watched the newest Anna Karenina film and as I was listening to these chapters, I was so struck by its similarities to the heartbreaking opera scene in that film/book. It is so fresh in my mind that I could put myself right into the opera house with these new characters. I was staring at Ellen and, at the same time, averting my eyes from “such audacity.” Excellent writing and you are right that Brenda’s voice is ideal for this book!

  8. Abby says:

    1. The canned intro still says we are reading Jane Eyre- ie “our current book starts on episode…”

    2. I just love Brenda! Her voice is like butter.

    3. I read 2 Edith Warton books in HS. Ethan Frome and Summer, both AP English Jr year. I found her flowery but tolerably so. I enjoyed them, but I don’t think I ‘got’ everything.

  9. Jessica Powers says:

    I read Age of Innocence on my own accord in high school, not long before the film came out, so I must have been turning 16. I absolutely loved it. I’m alright having been a freak.

    As with most of EW’s books what captured me was the bittersweet and poignant atmosphere the characters live in. I wasn’t a ‘live fast, dye young, good looking corpse’ sort of girl, and having moved in the 8th grade to a conservative, Christian, republican, white-as-white-bread rodeo town from a eclectic, diverse, arts driven neighbourhood in Seattle, I think I had a different view of the social expectations and constructs that I was experiencing and reading about. Simply being aware of them was probably a starting point of difference from my classmates who’d basically all grown up together. My concept of age/time/mortality was still developing, sure, but with a backdrop of Victorian and family-wide morbidness to give some awareness to the flitting nature of things.

    With all the time she devotes to the inner struggle between being true to oneself and sacrificing to keep the social order smooth and comfortable, I remember really understanding and applying it to where I was with my peers and as a general question-raising viewpoint directed as society overall. While she doesn’t go into long outright moral lectures like Henry James is so fond of, Wharton also doesn’t overtly question the way things are; what she does is point out the pain and strife and lack of joy that ‘the way things are/should be’ tends to have as a byproduct of being upheld and let that bring the question of why to the reader. I think Age of Innocence gave me a bit of a glimpse into what might happen if I allowed external influence to override my inner compass – and since I cried a lot reading her, it was pretty easy to point at that result and say ‘no thank you’.

    I also recall loving how she brought the character’s inner dialogue to the reader and finding it funny and honest while it smarted and stung and just plain ol’ hurt. Sarcasm is for the ages and Wharton does it well.

    Phew! That’s a lot of comment!

    • Heather says:

      You know, when I tried to imagine what kind of kid would like Wharton, I knew that some kind of awareness-of-pain would have to be involved. But it helps so much to have a clear image in mind.

      And yes, I totally agree. No one does this kind of commentary like Wharton. Her arched eyebrow really outdoes everyone else’s.

      Thank you so much for writing!

  10. Cheryl says:

    So loving listening to a podcast in “real time” for once! I listened to the first chapters of The Age of Innocence with my 13 year old daughter in the car! She was listening with half an ear as she was also trying to read her book. Kids who read are such a blessing!

    I also went back to listen to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow whilst doing paperwork. You had mentioned Increase and his son Cotton Mather, and the whole idea of growing up with a name which draws attention. My maiden name was High. Yeah, that was fun. Hi Miss High, etc. I went to school with Nova Caine and her sister Candy, so that took the heat off me a bit. Thank goodness my parents weren’t overly creative with my first name.

    Thanks for your entertainment. I’m so addicted to your podcast!

    • Heather says:

      Did your daughter have anything to say about Age, or was she too into her own?

      And oh my, Nova Caine… isn’t that child abuse?!

      • Cheryl says:

        Alas, my sweet girl was too into her book to give me any feedback. She is reading Looking for Alaska by John Green. She had just finished The Fault in Our Stars and loved it. We are looking forward to a multi-state drive in a few weeks, and she has already requested we listen to Jane Eyre in the car. That makes me happy!

        Thanks again for your podcast!

  11. lydia says:

    thoroughly enjoyed the first 2 chapters. i read edward rutherford’s “new york”, which has provided a great basis for understanding new york during this time and the whole old vs new money. can’t wait for the next episode.

    • Heather says:

      I just got Rutherford from Audible as I have some flights and knitting but am nearly done with my book. Thank you for the headsup!

  12. sharryn papinchak says:

    Brenda can read to me anytime, Am looking forward to this one….

  13. Caroline says:

    I just finished chapter one. The Faust in question is Gounod. There is a daisy song in act 3 according to my googling. A French opera evidently translated into Italian for the american audience as she snidely observes. “M’ama” = he loves me….

    • Heather says:

      I toyed with playing some of it for everyone, but I think watching Scorsese’s version in the movie does just as well. It’s pretty!
      And it did take me awhile to get the “ama” as “amour” etc.

      Have you seen the opera?!

  14. jenknitsalot says:

    I am loving both Age of Innocence and Bleak House (plu Chaucer and the Canterville Ghost which I finished this week). I think my favorite part of both EW and Dickens are the descriptions. I’m one of the weird folk who don’t “see a movie” in my head when I read. The detailed descriptions enthrall me. Thank you!

    P.S. The pendants are gorgeous. I have an idea in my head with for a cardigan sweater with a band of “stained glass” on each of the fronts…these give me even more inspiration!

  15. Tammy B. (ravelry screen name wearingpurple) says:

    Oh, the angst I’ve had while waiting for this episode! I’ve read several EW books and decided I didn’t care for them. I will be open minded and hoping to LIKE ‘Age of Innocence’… and with that in mind, giving much thought to what I would comment after this first installment, it seems it must be too soon as I still have nothing to say. I did like BD’s reading and am appreciative of the entire episode. ‘See’ you next week!

  16. Monique G says:

    I LOVE the pendants. I’d never be able to choose which one though.

    Dutchgirl63 on Rav

  17. Caroline says:

    AND, as if on cue, I found the zeitgeist speaking to us– Link to Amazon, hope it’s ok to link in a comment…

    • Heather says:

      Sure is! And I updated it to include the title and picture.
      Go figure! The zeit continues geisting!

    • Bonnie says:

      I thought i remembered you saying that you were planing a read along/while listening edition of the Age of Innocence. Can that be found somewhere on the site?

  1. June 30, 2013

    […] Heather mentioned the skirt project on the show notes page for the latest CraftLit podcast episode–[…]