Abstract

Edith Wharton's status as a literary author and her relative disinterest in the processes of adaptation dovetail with the traditional subjects and cultural hierarchies that have shaped the field of adaptation studies. This sympathy of biases has produced curious lacunae surrounding RKO's 1934 film version of The Age of Innocence. While several scholars have analyzed Martin Scorsese's 1993 adaptation, few studies provide in-depth analysis of the 1934 version directed by Philip Moeller. Both versions are accessible to modern scholars, yet Scorsese's adaptation, made primarily from Wharton's novel, has received more scrutiny from Wharton scholars than has Moeller's version, reputedly adapted from the 1928 stage version by Margaret Ayer Barnes. This article combines archival research with textual analysis to challenge long-held understandings concerning this adaptation and to interrogate the scholarly traditions that produce and perpetuate gaps related to adaptations of literary works. Considering particular lacunae in scholarship regarding this adaptation demonstrates the potential that methods and subjects outside scholarly traditions hold for both Wharton scholarship and adaptation studies.

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