Help me find an Edith Wharton short story
January 25, 2014 8:58 AM   Subscribe

During a recent episode of "Fresh Air," Emma Thompson referenced an Edith Wharton short story "about a young woman who comes back after her honeymoon to confront her mother, who has not given her any information about sexual behavior." Does anyone know the name of that story? My google-fu has failed me.
posted by pasici to Media & Arts (1 answer total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like it could actually be a story from Edith Wharton's own life, when her mother refused to give her details about sex before her marriage. She included this in in her memoir, A Backward Glance:
In her memoir, A Backward Glance, she dramatized a confrontation with her mother only days before the wedding. Suffering a bad case of nerves, she was finally able to muster the courage to ask "what marriage was really like."

Her mother responded with open contempt: "You've seen enough pictures and statues in your life," she said. "Haven't you noticed that men areā€¦ made differently from women?" When her daughter shyly indicated that she had noticed, Lucretia Jones decided that the case was closed. "Then for heaven's sake," she said, "don't ask me any more silly questions. You can't be as stupid as you pretend."

...Her life seemed, at least on the surface, to be settled. But we can not really know how difficult those first weeks of marriage were. There is enough information to assume the worst. We do know that, for the first three weeks, she remained ignorant of what she called the "processes of generation." Then, shortly after their physical relationship began, it seems to have ended for good. Many a Victorian bride might have been traumatized on her wedding night by a clumsy or insensitive husband. But how much of this was Teddy's fault is impossible to say, since the emotional deprivations of Edith Jones's childhood would certainly have contributed to the failed intimacy of their marriage. In an unpublished biographical essay, "Life & I," she wrote that it was her mother's "training" which "did more than anything to falsify & misdirect my whole life.
So it could be from A Backward Glance or from "Life & I" in The Unpublished Writings of Edith Wharton.
posted by Ouisch at 10:24 AM on January 25, 2014 [5 favorites]

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