Sunday, November 27, 2005

From The New Yorker, February 1936 (Talk of the Town), during the run of Ethan Frome on Broadway:

We caught our cold in the National Theatre, waiting at the top of the coasting hill for Ethan Frome and Mattie Silver to start their long, sad descent. The chill which we took was brought on when we observed the remarkable manner in which these two grief-sprent lovers arranged themselves on the sled. Instead of sitting up, clutching each other (as Mrs. Wharton specified), or lying down belly-whoppers (a conceivable alternative), they startled everybody by reclining side by side on the sled, in the sort of classic semi-recumbent pose which we once saw Raymond Duncan take before a group of ladies. It is clear to us now why the Ethan and Mattie of the play didn't die. They didn't die because they most certainly fell off the sled near the top of the hill and never got within a mile of the old elm at the bottom. Not even Donna Fox could have fetched the elm that way, much less Raymond Massey.
# 22 November. Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will air the 1934 version of The Age of Innocence on December 6 and 20. This version is not available on VHS or DVD.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

From Slate on Maureen Dowd (

One of Dowd's many admirers extravagantly compared her to Edith Wharton. But Wharton was among the first female writers to write about the single woman's ambivalence toward marriage. What is maddening about Dowd's book—and the excerpt in the Times Magazine—is that she does not develop her ideas, that she does not push beneath the surface. One wishes that, instead of devoting herself to zinginess, to ripostes and one-liners, she would use her threatening intelligence to unearth the deeper complexities of her subject. Is there something about the generation of women who came of age in the late 1960s—in male-dominated universities and workplaces—that finds its own power problematic? Why is it that so many women are taking refuge in outdated visions of femininity?