National Endowment for the Arts - The Big Read
The Age of Innocence

The Age of Innocence

by Edith Wharton

No novel worth anything can be anything but a novel ‘with a purpose,’ and if anyone who cared for the moral issue did not see in my work that I care for it, I should have no one to blame but myself.


Edith Wharton, 1908 (Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Writer Louis Auchincloss has published more than sixty books of fiction, essays, biography, and history, including Edith Wharton: A Woman in Her Time (1971). He was the editor of Edith Wharton: Selected Poems (2005), which features some of her formerly unpublished poems. His novels included Venus in Sparta (1958), The Dark Lady (1977), and East Side Story (2004). A past president of the American Academy of Arts & Letters, Auchincloss was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2005.

A former film and music critic for Time, Jay Cocks began writing for the screen in 1990. Collaborating with Martin Scorsese, Cocks co-wrote the screenplay for the film The Age of Innocence (1993), for which he received an Oscar nomination. Other screenplays include Strange Days (1995), Gangs of New York (2002), and De-Lovely (2004).

Stephanie Copeland is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Mount, Edith Wharton's Estate in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. Copeland began her career in the arts in 1972 as personal assistant to Nancy Hanks, then Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. She joined Edith Wharton Restoration in 1993. Copeland lectures widely to support the preservation and restoration of The Mount.

Dana Gioia, the former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, is an acclaimed poet, critic, and literary anthologist. His third collection of poetry, Interrogations at Noon (2001), won the American Book Award. He has also written collections of essays, including Can Poetry Matter?: Essays on Poetry and American Culture (1992; 2002) and Disappearing Ink: Poetry at the End of Print Culture (2004).

Born in Chicago, David Ives was educated at Northwestern University and Yale School of Drama. A Guggenheim Fellow in playwriting, he is probably best known for his one-act comedies collected in two anthologies, All in the Timing (1994) and Time Flies (2001). His young adult novels include Monsieur Eek (2001), Scrib (2005) and Voss (2008), and his translation of Georges Feydeau's classic French farce A Flea in Her Ear premiered on stage in 2006.

Born in London to a Spanish father and Italian mother, Alfred Molina began his acting career on the stage. His theatre work includes Royal National Theatre productions, and Tony Award-nominated roles in the Broadway productions of Art and Fiddler on the Roof. Now a celebrated film actor, Molina can be seen in Chocolat (2000), Frida (2002), Spider-Man 2 (2004), The Da Vinci Code (2006), and The Hoax (2006).

P. J. O'Rourke is a political satirist, journalist, and writer. In 1973 he began an eight-year run as managing editor of humor magazine National Lampoon. He is the author of more than fourteen books including The Bachelor Home Companion (1987), Give War a Chance (1992), and Don't Vote--It Just Encourages the Bastards (2010). He is the H. L. Mencken Research Fellow of the Cato Institute and a regular correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly.

Writer Elizabeth Spencer has published several novels and short-story collections, a work of non-fiction, and a play. With a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1953, she planned to live in Italy for one year, but stayed for five. Her most famous work set in Italy, the novella The Light in the Piazza (1960), was written in Montreal, where she lived for 28 years.

Amy Tan was born in Oakland, California, in 1952, several years after her parents immigrated to the San Francisco Bay area from China. Her best-selling works include The Big Read selection The Joy Luck Club (1989); the children's book The Chinese Siamese Cat (1994); a collection of essays, The Opposite of Fate (2003); and the novel Saving Fish from Drowning (2005).

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