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Edith Wharton emerges in this book as a novelist of morals (rather than manners). Behind her polished portraits of upper-class New York life is a thoughtful, questioning spirit. This book analyzes Wharton's religion and philosophy in short stories and seven major novels. It considers Wharton in terms of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American intellectual and religious life. It also analyzes Wharton in terms of her gender and class, explaining how this aristocratic woman applies and yet transforms both the classical and Christian traditions that she inherits.