A Journey by Edith Wharton (1890)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror June 3, 2014
A woman is traveling with her husband on a long-distance train to New York. She is on her way back home to her family. Her husband is seriously ill.
The opening lines at the start of her journey, “As she lay in her berth, staring at the shadows overhead, the rush of the wheels was in her brain …” are the polar opposite of what happens at the end of her journey.
We are inside this woman’s “circles of wakeful lucidity” but there’s much more going on. I like what is not being said as much as what is communicated.
As the days pass, this lovely and devoted wife tries to attend to her husband’s needs, protect him, and keep everyone else on the train away from him for his privacy. Her anxiety, loneliness, and frightening helplessness prevail as the train zooms across the countryside.
On this journey, death is also a passenger.
When her journey is over and she thinks her worst terror has past, there is one more drama to come. I read the ending again and ever so slowly. That last image inside the darkened Harlem tunnel is the true haunting in this story
Edith Wharton is most famous for her skills of subtle irony and drama. We know her best works to be The Age of Innocence and House of Mirth, and of course her ghost stories.
Read A Journey at ReadBookOnline.net.
No audio available for A Journey but Librivox does have a number of her short reads on their Tales of Men edition. It includes The Eyes and Afterward and others you might like. Listen to the audio of Edith Wharton’s short stories here at Librivox.
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