American Icons: The House of Mirth


Friday, November 11, 2011

Lily is a smart single woman, a beauty in demand on the party circuit. But Lily is nearing thirty, and struggling to manage money, friendships, and romance. In The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton examined the dangerous compromises facing a woman who wants to set her own destiny, and broke ground for countless writers who followed. This is not TV, and it doesn’t end happily. Candace Bushnell, who wrote Sex and the City, explains why she vowed “never to end up like Lily Bart.” Wharton scholars and film director Terence Davies explain why the tragedy feels so contemporary.

The House of Mirth was produced by Michele Siegel and edited by Emily Botein. Anne Marie Nest read selections from the book.

(Originally aired: October 29, 2010)


More Mirth: Listen to a bonus track featuring Jonathan Franzen and check out a slideshow on the feature page on our American Icons website.

    Music Playlist
  1. Prelude, in E minor
    Artist: Chopin
  2. Fruhlingsglaube
    Artist: Franz Liszt
  3. Grande Etude de Paganini n3
    Artist: Franz Liszt
    Album: Liszt: Complete Paganini Etudes
    Label: Hyperion UK
    Purchase: Amazon


Candace Bushnell, Terence Davies, Hildegard Hoeller, Deborah Jermyn and Roxana Robinson

Produced by:

Michele Siegel


Emily Botein

Comments [3]

Leah White from Chicago

@Alex from Brooklyn - I think when it's over 100 years later, you no longer get to cry "spoiler alert." Sorry, dude.

Jan. 15 2012 09:55 AM
carolita from NYC

It's not just for women, either -- what happens to Lily Bart happens in the context of the institutionalized oppression of women, but it could easily be transposed into the world of business, and be the story of a man past his prime. It's women's "Death of a Salesman."

Nov. 13 2011 11:52 AM
Alex from Brooklyn

I'm pretty bummed that the ending of this book was spoiled for me. Like, more than a little bummed. It sounded like a great read.

Nov. 12 2011 06:04 PM

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