Short story: “Afterward”

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“Afterward,” by Edith Wharton

According to Wikipedia, this first appeared in The Century Magazine in 1910 and collected in The Collected Short Stories of Edith Wharton and Tales of Men and Ghosts; online here; audio version here

11,645 words

A neat, creepy little story. You can really feel the influence of Henry James.

Minor quibble: “[S]he saw the shadow of the same surprise flit across Alida’s clear pupils.” Pupils? With the exception of very old people and people with eye diseases, I’ve never seen anyone whose pupils were not clear (that is, black). Also, I’ve never seen pupils that could express emotion except by dilating and contracting. Is there a term for when a writer picks the wrong word out of a misplaced sense of precision? “False meronymy,” maybe? I think I’m prone to this myself.

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