The House of Mirth: Serial Reading Guide

This guide will help you read Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth in four sessions. The parts of the guide should not be read all at once, but read in conjunction with the relevant “installment” of the novel.

Begin by reading through part 1 (there will be no spoilers). Then read the corresponding portion of The House of Mirth  (chapters 1 and 2). That’s all–stop there. The point of serial reading is to pause at certain points to consider what you have just read and anticipate what may come.

After reading the first two chapters, reread part 1 of the guide, making any notes of agreement, disagreement, and observation that you like. Then follow the same procedure with part 2 and the indicated portion of the novel. And so on.

If you are a teacher, you can also use this guide to structure course readings, class discussion, and essay assignments.

Wharton’s novel was originally published in eleven monthly parts in 1905. It is organized into two books. Book one is comprised of fifteen chapters, while book two includes 14 chapters. For this guide, chapters are indicated by book and chapter, such that “2.3” indicates book two, chapter three, for example.

As noted, part 1 covers only the first two chapters of the novel (they are very, very good chapters). The other three parts cover about 100 pages each. Part 2 takes you from book one, chapter three to book one, chapter ten. Part 3 moves from 1.11 to 2.3. And Part 4 brings you from 2.4 to the novel’s conclusion.

Next: Part 1 of the Serial Reading Guide for The House of Mirth (chs. 1.1 – 1.2) >

Links to The House of Mirth Serial Reading Guide:

Part One: 1.1 – 1.2
Part Two: 1.3 – 1.10
Part Three: 1.11 – 2.3
Part Four: 2.4 – 2.14 (end of novel)

My original Newberry Library Seminar posting is here.

Image: John Singer Sargent, “Mrs. Richard Bennet Lloyd” (1775-76, detail).

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© Steven J. Venturino 2017