… some scholars have worked to establish its larger significance, particularly in its status as a “war novel” that drew deeply from the chasm of the First World War. Wharton began writing the novel almost immediately after the war’s end. She was living in Paris and had spent the war years in typically energetic, achievement‑oriented exertion, serving as the head of the American Hostels for Refugees, a large international organization that provided housing, food, and care of all kinds to those who arrived in Paris by the thousands during the war. In 1916 she received a noteworthy honor for her work when she was made a chevalier of the French Legion of Honor. To be sure, The Age of Innocence bears many marks of the world out of which it was born. It is a melancholic survey of a battle‑scarred and lost way of life, a big novel in a longer (but waning) tradition that explored America’s relationship with Europe, posing that relationship as an important component in intellectual and aesthetic life.
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