This week, Jared Bowen virtually visits The Mount, which is celebrating the centennial of Edith Wharton’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Age of Innocence.” Plus, a look at Rania Matar’s new photography project “Across Windows.”

“The Age of Innocence Centennial,” a host of virtual programming to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Edith Wharton’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, presented by The Mount

The Age of Innocence Centennial
Edith Wharton at her Pavillon Colombe desk looking up
Courtesy of The Mount

This year marks the centennial of the publication of Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence,” her 12th novel, which she initially released in four parts for Pictorial Review magazine in 1920. The novel, set in New York’s Gilded Age, won Wharton a Pulitzer Prize—the first-ever awarded to a female author. But the honor was not without contention. Sinclair Lewis’ “Main Street” was the original choice but was tossed out on moral grounds.

“It was a fairly controversial choice,” says Susan Wissler, executive director of The Mount, “and Wharton did not like her novel to be characterized that way. So that filled her with despair.”

This year, The Mount — Wharton’s historic home in Lenox, Massachusetts — is celebrating the centennial of the book’s publication with a series of virtual programs providing insight into Wharton’s writing process and the Gilded Age in which she set the novel. The events will culminate in an outdoor screening on Aug. 28 of Martin Scorsese’s 1993 film adaptation.

“Across Windows,” an ongoing photo series by photographer Rania Matar

Jen and Robbie, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Rania Matar

Rania Matar is used to getting in people’s spaces. Her work as a photographer usually takes her into her subject’s homes as she documents themes of adolescence and womanhood. With in-person encounters no longer possible during the coronavirus pandemic, Matar had to get creative to continue working. The result is “Across Windows,” a new photo series that features intimate portraits of everyday people and families, shot from a distance through their doorframes and windows.

“For me the challenge became, how do I create that same level of intimacy while not being able to touch people or to be really close to them?” says Matar. “And it was a good learning exercise for me. … I didn't go make a quick portrait. I fell into my own way of working where I was truly collaborating with people.”

“Across Windows” is currently viewable on Rania Matar’s website and on Instagram and is slated to be exhibited at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College.

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