Over the course of a long and astonishingly productive literary career that stretched from the early 1890s to just before World War II, Edith Wharton published nearly a dozen story collections, leaving a body of work as various as it is enduring. With this two-volume set, The Library of America presents the finest of Wharton's achievement in short fiction: 67 stories drawn from the entire span of her writing life, including the novella-length works The Touchstone, Sanctuary, and Bunner Sisters, eight shorter pieces never collected by Wharton, and many stories long out-of-print.
Her range of setting and subject matter is dazzling, and her mastery of style consistently sure. Here are all the aspects of Wharton's art: her satire, sometimes gentle, sometimes dark and despairing, of upper-class manners; her unblinking recognition of the power of social convention and the limits of passion; her merciless exposure of commercial motivations; her candid exploration of relations between the sexes.
The stories range with cosmopolitan ease from her native New York to the salons and summer hotels of Newport, Paris, and the Italian lakes. The depth of her response to World War I is registered in such works as "The Marne". Of particular interest are the remarkable stories which treat occult and supernatural themes rarely encountered in her novels, such as the classic ghost stories "The Eyes" and "Pomegranate Seed".