Telling Two Stories

August 6, 2020

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

This online program will be streamed live via Zoom. For all our online events, registration closes one hour prior to the event. 

In her foreword to the new Penguin Classic edition of The Age of Innocence, Elif Batuman writes a literary classic is a "recurring character in one’s life. One reads it, years go by, one reads it again, and it becomes the sum of those readings over time. One identifies with the character closest to one in age — and then one’s age changes. Eventually, each classic tells two stories: its own, and the story of all the times one has read it. In a way, in The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton wrote an allegory of this very process: of the way stories acquire new meanings over time."

Join author Elif Batuman and Wharton scholar Jennifer Haytock in conversation as they  reflect on how their own multiple readings of Wharton's Pulitzer-prize winning novel lead them to new ways of identifying with the characters. They will also discuss how multiple readings have informed their understanding of social norms, class and privilege, from Wharton’s old New York through today. 

The Mount is a Massachusetts Cultural Council UP designated organization welcoming participants of all disabilities. Please contact The Mount at 413-551-5100 or by email,, to discuss accommodations needed to participate fully in this event.


Elif Batuman is the author of The Idiot and The Possessed. She is a staff writer at The New Yorker. Batuman has a PhD in comparative literature from Stanford and has been the Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence at Baruch College, and a fellow at the Cullman Center for Writers and Scholars at the New York Public Library and a 2018 Writer-in-Residence at The Mount.


Jennifer Haytock is professor of English at SUNY Brockport and the Edith Wharton Society Vice President. Among other works, she has published Edith Wharton and the Conversations of Literary Modernism and co-edited (with Laura Rattray) The New Edith Wharton Studies. She is the volume editor for The Complete Works of Edith Wharton, Volume 24, The Children. She is also one of SUNY’s 2019 winners of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship.