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There are serious 2020 quarantine vibes in Edith Wharton’s first published short story.

Dan Sheehan

May 26, 2020, 1:21pm

Edith Wharton’s first published short story, “Mrs. Manstey’s View,” was accepted on this day one hundred and twenty-nine years ago, in the year of our lord 1891, by the clever folks at Scribner’s magazine. I sat down to read the tale of a ruminative New York widow this morning and found it eerily appropriate for our current moment. Consider, if you will, the particulars:

(i) Mrs. Manstey is confined to her New York City apartment, her view of the world restricted to what can be seen through a single window.

(ii) Her enthusiasm for corresponding with a family member on the other side of the country is waning by the day.

(iii) She daydreams about moving to the country, where she can have a garden and keep chickens.

(iv) She obsesses over the (sometimes aberrant) behavior of her neighbors.

(v) A Rear Window-esque monomania has begun to set in…

 

Perhaps I’m projecting. Give it a read and judge for yourselves.

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