Nancy Lewis is an American studies scholar who collaborated frequently with her late husband, R. W. B. Lewis, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the landmark biography, “Edith Wharton”(1975). R. W. B. Lewis served as an uncredited consultant on the script of Scorcese’s film.
Together, the Lewises co-edited “The Letters of Edith Wharton”(1989), a collection of nearly 400 pieces of correspondence that show the great American novelist “at her epistolary best.” Writing in the “New York Times,”Michiko Kakutani called it a “meticulously edited volume” that adds “depth and chiaroscuro” to the known details of Wharton’s life. In 1999, the Lewises also co-authored “American Characters: Selections from the National Portrait Gallery,”a book of nearly 200 American portrait paintings accompanied by “literary portraits” of the people depicted. The “New York Times”reviewer said, “This is a book you can get lost in for hours.... the portraits and the commentary make fascinating reading.”
The 1993 film “The Age of Innocence” received widespread raves in the American press. Peter Travers of “Rolling Stone” said that director Martin Scorsese “sweeps us away on waves of dizzying eroticism and rapturous romance.” Writing in “The Washington Post,” Rita Kempley said, “Perhaps it shouldn’t come as such a grand surprise that he is as deft at exploring the nuances of Edwardian manners as he is the laws of modern-day machismo.” Writing in “The New York Times,” Vincent Canby said, “Mr. Scorsese has made a big, intelligent movie that functions as if it were a window on a world he had just discovered, and about which he can’t wait to spread the news.”
A classic of 20th century American literature, the 1920 novel earned Wharton the Pulitzer Prize. The novel achieved bestseller status in 1921, and enjoyed renewed popularity in the 1980s and 1990s during a major revival of interest in Wharton’s work at both the popular and academic level.“The Big Read” project encourages every member of the Capital Region to read a single book. This year’s selection is Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence.” “The Big Read” is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest.
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.