The Fullness of Life by Edith Wharton (1891)
Tuesday’s Tale of Supernatural July 3, 2018
[“The Wicket of Paradise,” by American illustrator Howard Pyle]
“I have sometimes thought that a woman’s nature is like a great house full of rooms: there is the hall, through which everyone passes going in and out; the drawing room, where one receives formal visits; the sitting room, where members of the family come and go as they list; but beyond that, far beyond, are other rooms, the handles of whose doors perhaps are never turned; no one knows whither they lead; and in the innermost room, the holy of holies, the soul sits alone and waits for a footstep that never comes.”
This is the voice of our narrator, who has died. She meets the Spirit of Life and enters Eternity. Written in beautiful details about real life and the poetries of life, the story takes us into the afterlife to explore love, desires, and the search for a soulmate. This quiet little supernatural tragedy is an unflinching observation into how the soul loves and the search for a soulmate. A story that will haunt you long after you’ve read the last lines.
When reading the quote above—and after reading this story—do you agree “that a woman’s nature is like a great house full of rooms,” with a private chamber that houses her soul? What kind of love holds a marriage together? Wharton is masterful at scratching our thoughts. Please comment!
Read the 30-minute short story at East of the Web:
Listen to the audio by Librivox:
Edith Wharton said of her early stories that “all were written at the top of my voice, and The Fullness of Life is one long shriek.”
Wharton broke through the tight societal strictures to become one of America’s greatest writers. Author of The Age of Innocence, Ethan Frome, and The House of Mirth, she wrote over 40 books in 40 years, books of poetry and nonfiction. She was the first woman awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Wharton has 17 short story collections.
“I am an incorrigible life-lover & life-wonderer & adventurer.”
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