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The Hermit and the Wild Woman   By: (1862-1937)

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The Hermit and the Wild Woman by Edith Wharton is a captivating novella that delves into the complexities of human nature and the clash between civilization and the untamed wilderness. Wharton's exquisite writing skillfully brings to life the contrasting characters of the hermit and the wild woman, forcing readers to question their own perceptions of societal norms and the boundaries of human behavior.

The narrative revolves around a chance encounter between the solitary hermit, Mr. Royall, and the mysterious wild woman, who is found living in the remote forest. Wharton beautifully portrays the stark contrast between these two characters – the hermit represents order, propriety, and conformity, while the wild woman personifies freedom, passion, and a primal connection to nature. Through their interactions, a complex relationship blooms, slowly unraveling the layers that separate them and exposing the vulnerability hidden within.

What makes this novella truly exceptional is the way Wharton explores the themes of desire, redemption, and the pursuit of happiness. The author skillfully conveys the inner struggles of both characters, painting a vivid picture of their inner worlds as they navigate the boundaries imposed by society and their own internal conflicts. Wharton forces readers to confront the inherent complexities of human desire and the ways in which individuals are shaped by their environment and circumstances.

The pacing of the novella is well-balanced, with Wharton employing her signature style of detailed descriptions and compelling dialogues. Each scene is meticulously crafted, drawing readers deeper into the story and creating a sense of intimacy with the characters. The author's ability to create a lush forest setting that becomes almost palpable brings an added layer of richness to the narrative.

While The Hermit and the Wild Woman is a relatively short work, Wharton's masterful storytelling leaves a lasting impact. By exploring the depths of human psyche and the power dynamics within relationships, she forces readers to reflect on their own prejudices and judgements. Whether one sympathizes with the hermit or the wild woman, Wharton's story ultimately challenges societal norms and raises important questions about the true meaning of freedom and happiness.

In conclusion, The Hermit and the Wild Woman is a thought-provoking work that showcases Edith Wharton's brilliance as a writer. With its beautifully crafted characters, immersive setting, and profound insights into human nature, this novella captivates readers from beginning to end. Wharton's ability to explore the boundaries of human desire and the clash between civilization and the untamed wilderness results in a compelling and impactful narrative.

First Page:







I The Hermit and the Wild Woman

II The Last Asset

III In Trust

IV The Pretext

V The Verdict

VI The Pot Boiler

VII The Best Man



THE Hermit lived in a cave in the hollow of a hill. Below him was a glen, with a stream in a coppice of oaks and alders, and on the farther side of the valley, half a day's journey distant, another hill, steep and bristling, which raised aloft a little walled town with Ghibelline swallow tails notched against the sky.

When the Hermit was a lad, and lived in the town, the crenellations of the walls had been square topped, and a Guelf lord had flown his standard from the keep. Then one day a steel coloured line of men at arms rode across the valley, wound up the hill and battered in the gates. Stones and Greek fire rained from the ramparts, shields clashed in the streets, blade sprang at blade in passages and stairways, pikes and lances dripped above huddled flesh, and all the still familiar place was a stew of dying bodies. The boy fled from it in horror. He had seen his father go forth and not come back, his mother drop dead from an arquebuse shot as she leaned from the platform of the tower, his little sister fall with a slit throat across the altar steps of the chapel and he ran, ran for his life, through the slippery streets, over warm twitching bodies, between legs of soldiers carousing, out of the gates, past burning farmsteads, trampled wheat fields, orchards stripped and broken, till the still woods received him and he fell face down on the unmutilated earth... Continue reading book >>

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