Thursday, December 22, 2005

Edith Wharton's Library (press release from The Mount)
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In addition to containing 22 copies of her own works, some of the more important first editions in the collection according to independent appraisers include:

* Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1866, first American edition) 1,000 copies printed. Wharton recalled that as a child she knew Alice “by heart.”
* The Golden Bowl by Henry James, signed by the author: “To Edith Wharton – in sympathy – Henry James, November 1904.” There are more than 25 works by James in the library including Terminations, Embarrassments, and Wings of the Dove, chronicling their long and intimate friendship.
* Ulysses by James Joyce. This is one of 750 copies published by Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare and Company in 1922.
* America and the World War by Theodore Roosevelt, 1915. Inscribed: “To Edith Wharton from an American – American! Theodore Roosevelt Feb 6th 1915.”
* The Education of Henry Adams (Privately printed for the author), 1907. Edition of 100 copies.

Sets of books from her father’s library, including his two-volume set of Milton, were joined by the poets she loved, including Arnold, Browning, Coleridge, Donne, Hopkins, Keats, Shelley, Tennyson, Yeats, and three volumes of Walt Whitman, a personal favorite.

Essentially self-educated, she was fluent in French, German, and Italian, and collected classical literature in translation. She revered the works of Goethe and read all his poetry by the age of fifteen. Works by Italian writers including Boccaccio, Machiavelli, Dante, and Leopardi were side by side on her shelves with French masters Racine, Pascal, Balzac, Stendhal, Flaubert, and Proust.
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