Short Fiction

Afterward

The short story “Afterward,” a haunting tale of greed and household ghosts told in five parts, tells the story of Mary and Ned Boyne, nouveau-riche American expatriates. Author Edith Wharton wrote “Afterward” in 1910, ten years before she’d publish The Age of Innocence, the novel which would win her the Pulitzer Prize for fiction (the first woman to ever do so). Like her most famous work, “Afterward” examines and critiques the morality and expectations of upper-class aristocratic society. As Wharton builds a convincing ghost story, she also comments on the well-known structure of the gothic ghost story—a meta-commentary technique modern readers will appreciate even a century after its original publication.

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