Unsettled intimacies: revisiting Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country through Nella Larsen’s Quicksand

Tydskrif vir Letterkunde

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Title Unsettled intimacies: revisiting Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country through Nella Larsen’s Quicksand
 
Creator Willis, Kedon
 
Subject Nella Larsen
Edith Wharton
colonialism
capitalism
motherhood
racism
 
Description Scholars have highlighted Nella Larsen’s textual interventions into aspects of Edith Wharton’s major works. The interventions, they claim, not only unmask Wharton’s pointed operations of erasure against people of color but, in some cases, showcase her racism. None of these works, however, devote critical analysis to the interventions staged on Wharton’s The Custom of the Country (1913), the novel that, I argue, is her most definitive statement on the role of market-based capitalism on the fate of Western civilization. Nella Larsen’s Quicksand (1928) shares many of Custom’s thematic concerns. Though writing from different class and racial perspectives, both writers must account for the social developments that spilled over from the previous century to articulate their implications for their heroines in terms of marriage, family, work, divorce, sex, and race relations on a trans-Atlantic scale. However, given that Custom almost entirely elides the presence of people of color, assessing it alongside Quicksand animates the spectre of colonialism that haunts the text, inviting us to remember why not all bodies, as M. Jacqui Alexander argues in “Not Just (Any) Body Can Be a Citizen,” can be imagined as naturalized citizen subjects within the rubric of modern capitalism.
 
Publisher Tydskrif vir Letterkunde Association
 
Date 2019-06-03
 
Type info:eu-repo/semantics/article
info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersion
 
Format application/pdf
 
Identifier https://journals.assaf.org.za/index.php/tvl/article/view/6273
10.17159/2309-9070/tvl.v.56i1.6273
 
Source Tydskrif vir Letterkunde; Vol 56 No 1 (2019); 62-73
2309-9070
0041-476X
 
Language eng
 
Relation https://journals.assaf.org.za/index.php/tvl/article/view/6273/7727
 
Rights Copyright (c) 2019 Tydskrif vir Letterkunde
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0
 

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