Yes, I'm having trouble committing myself to the rereading I want to do. I want to do it because, in reading this time, I became interested in the play of sympathy. Undine seems an almost despicable character, and yet I began to wonder about that. I have read that many readers, even Jane Austen's mother, of Mansfield Park sympathize more with Mary Crawford than with Fanny. They find Mary Crawford lively and pleasant and Fanny something of a prig. I started to wonder if one might find Ralph and his set rather priggish bores and sympathize more with Undine. I started to wonder if Wharton did. I was interested in the comments of that guy who turned up two or three times - his name started with a B - who said that Americans left their wives out of real life. I wondered if he was speaking for the author. I decided to think he wasn't, to think that Edith had no sympathies, as, I think, a good novelist should not. And yet as I read on, it became hard to believe anyone could sympathize much with Undine. Neglect of children always seems to damn women. It is that which makes it most difficult to sympathize with Emma Bovary too. Little Paul becomes almost Dickensian by the end.
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