Hi, Wharton is wonderful! Having years ago read Ethan Frome, and more recently The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth, I now find myself enthralled with The Custom of the Country, bringing me to my question. Undine’s early thoughts on Peter Van Degen lead to her conclusion that all the offerings of life “seem stale and unprofitable outside the magic ring of the Society Column.” Is it reasonable to assume Wharton knew her Shakespeare well enough to intentionally and selectively leave the other two adjectives, “weary” and “flat”, out of Hamlet’s soliloquy, or is her “stale and unprofitable” mere coincidence? (As there is no evidence that even The Hound of the Baskervilles was actually Undine’s, I have a hard time imagining The Bard on her reading list.) Many thanks in advance for any thoughts you might have.
Sincerely, Dr. Bruce Barlam