Edith Wharton, one of America's foremost women of letters, chronicled the glittering world of New York society in the early twentieth century. Her stories, collected in such volumes as The Greater Inclination (1899), The Descent of Man and Other Stories (1904), and Tales of Men and Ghosts (1910), scrutinize the moral decay beneath the glamorous facade of wealth and good manners. Although Wharton's sensibilities are closely aligned with Victorian literary tastes, she anticipated the spirit of the 1920s in her use of fallible narrators. Her writing set the stage for the coming generation of modernist writers.Barbara A. White examines Wharton's short fiction from a contemporary feminist perspective, arguing that her work can best be understood in terms of her biography. Suggesting that Wharton was probably the victim of incest, White demonstrates how this terrible experience deeply affected her life and art. White also analyzes Wharton's criticism of social convention, particularly her treatment of the institution of marriage. Closing with selections from Wharton's own writings and from other prominent critics, this provocative study illuminates the psychological complexity and astute social observation inherent in Wharton's work. Edith Wharton: A Study of the Short Fiction is certain to be a seminal work in Wharton studies.