I thought it would be more suitably titled “Crucial Exploration” rather than “Crucial Instances”. I like everything Wharton wrote, almost indiscriminately, even if when she’s exploring different possibilities with her writing in her “Crucial Instances”. Some people say “Crucial Instances” are better than her first short story collection “The Greater Inclination”, but I have no interest in ranking her books or her collections. It has Wharton’s signature beauty of language and that’s all I care about. The first story about a praying duchess is a little Gothic like. The “Dialogue” reminds me of George Bernard Shaw–and if Wharton continue in the direction of witty banter, she might have become another Shaw. However why does she want to be a second Shaw when she can become a first Wharton? The story about moving finger is very much a ghost story and it is not difficult to see that she only dabbled a little bit in the supernatural direction. Both the first story and the last story, both about Italians, ask the readers to draw her own conclusions. The author only presents a part of the story and leaves the rest to the readers’ imagination. It could be the author’s exploration in such kind of stories to see how well they turn out, how readers like them etc.