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Extreme DomesticityA View from the Margins$
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Susan Fraiman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780231166348

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231166348.001.0001

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Domesticity Beyond Sentiment

Domesticity Beyond Sentiment

Edith Wharton, Decoration, and Divorce

Chapter:
(p.68) 3 Domesticity Beyond Sentiment
Source:
Extreme Domesticity
Author(s):

Susan Fraiman

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231166348.003.0004

Analyzes Edith Wharton’s late-century guide to interior design, The Decoration of Houses (1897), as a vision of home extricated from and opposed to sentimental conceptions of marriage and family. Takes its photographs of pristine and depopulated rooms as antidotes to the emotional mess of Wharton’s doomed cohabitation with Teddy Wharton. Contrasts these images to the conventionally warm and fuzzy ones featured in Clarence Cook’s rival design manual, The House Beautiful (1877). Citing Wharton’s guide, contests the tendency in American Studies today to treat domesticity and sentimentality as necessarily interchangeable terms.

Keywords:   Edith Wharton, Decoration of Houses, Sentimentality, design manuals, divorce novels, Clarence Cook

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