Abstract

This article examines the literary geography of Edith Wharton’s Jazz Age New York in Twilight Sleep. It considers the impact of the urban narrative upon the characters, and how this work can be understood as a spatial event. Sheila Hones describes literary geography as the interdisciplinary nexus between literary studies and geography. Building upon this definition, the author extends the interdisciplinarity of narrative spatiality toward the medical humanities. Edith Wharton’s New York is embodied, possessing its own animus like an automaton, being simultaneously alive and dead, dazzling yet breathless, killing but beautiful. There is a sickness to the city which impacts most of the major characters, either physically or mentally. Using the epigraph as a framework, this article offers an innovative consideration of the relationship between fictional place and mental state, highlighting Edith Wharton’s use of space and place in Twilight Sleep to warn of the danger New York represented to female mental health.

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