Was the death of Lily Bart, the heroine of Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth a suicide or an accidental overdose? Literary pundits have been arguing the question since the novel debuted in 1905, but a letter written by Wharton and recently unearthed points to the suicide theory. "A month before Mirth installments started coming out in Scribner's, Wharton wrote to society doctor Frances Kinnicutt, " A friend of mine has made up her mind to commit suicide," Wharton writes, "& has asked me to find out...the most painless & least unpleasant method of effacing herself." Do you think Lily meant to off herself? Or should vague endings be left up to reader interpretation? [New York Times ]


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