By Edith Wharton
L. a. familia Spragg, que se ha hecho rica en una pequeña ciudad del medio oeste, lleva dos años viviendo en Nueva York sin conseguir abrirse paso en su intrincada maraña de jerarquías sociales. Son "gente corriente" que "aún no había aprendido a avergonzarse de ello". Su hija Undine, ayudada por su encanto y extraordinaria belleza, logra hacerse un hueco en el gran mundo y despertar admiración, aunque no tarda en comprender que en él los hombres los angeles ven como "materia de pura carne". Persiguiendo los angeles respetabilidad, se casa con Ralph Marvell, miembro de uno de los más distinguidos clanes de los angeles vieja Nueva York, pero habrá de descubrir que no siempre el buen nombre y el dinero van en el mismo lote. Poco dispuesta a renunciar a ninguna de las dos cosas, el matrimonio se convierte para ella en una carrera, como los negocios o las tierras lo son para los hombres. Un atildado conde francés y un enérgico especulador norteamericano los angeles esperan en el accidentado -a veces trágico- camino de su ascensión. Las costumbres nacionales (1913), una de las obras maestras de Edith Wharton, es una trepidante y magnífica novela sobre el matrimonio, el prestige y el dinero, y el papel que le está reservado a una mujer en cada uno de sus ámbitos. Su dilema, expuesto no sólo con ingenio sino con suma inteligencia, es el de si se puede tener una ethical para los negocios y otra para los angeles vida privada, y qué ocurre cuando una mujer debe considerar su vida privada como una empresa.
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Henry David Thoreau is born. The American Colonization Society is founded, supporting the return of African Americans to Africa. S. Congress passes the Missouri Compromise, an attempt to settle the North-South conflict over whether slavery will be allowed in new states admitted to the Union. 1822 Ulysses S. Grant is born. In an effort to prevent free black sailors from mixing with local slaves and spreading ideas about insurrection, South Carolina passes the Negro Seamen Act, requiring the imprisonment of black sailors while in port.
In the aftermath of the Civil War, the states and the District of Columbia underwent a painful adjustment to the idea that blacks were citizens, although some below the Mason-Dixon line never fully accepted the notion until well into the twentieth century. Many southern states created black codes, which restricted the rights of black people, as an effort to reassert white supremacy. These statutes were clearly in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment舗s guarantee of freedom, and the Fourteenth Amendment舗s guarantees of due process and equal protection, as they included provisions such as disallowing blacks to vote or bear arms and mandated segregation of public facilities.
She then returns to New York City, where she works as a domestic servant for the next eight years. Few details are known of her life during this time. Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, is born. 1836 Davy Crockett dies in the battle of the Alamo in Texas. S. House of Representatives passes the first of several gag rules that table without discussion anti-slavery proposals. 1838 Frederick Bailey escapes from slavery in Maryland and heads north, where he changes his name to Frederick Douglass.
Las costumbres nacionales by Edith Wharton