Monday, October 23, 2006

Age of Innocence on TCM, December 20, 2006

The 1934 film version of The Age of Innocence will be shown on Turner Classic Movies on December 20, 2006, at 10:30 a.m. This film is not available on video or DVD, so if you want to see it, this is probably your only chance this year.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Wharton, Theodore Roosevelt, and Lewis Carroll


Thirteen years after "Snark," Carroll published the first part of his novel "Sylvie and Bruno," in which the Professor begins reciting, "Once upon a time there was a Boojum— " and stops. "I forget the rest of the Fable," he admits. "And there was a lesson to be learned from it. I'm afraid I forget that, too." Many people in the real world have also forgotten. In her autobiography, Edith Wharton recounted a story about her friend Theodore Roosevelt, whose enthusiasm for "Snark" led to a farcical scene.

One day, Roosevelt admonished the secretary of the Navy, "Mr. Secretary, what I say three times is true!" And the less literate gentleman replied stiffly, "Mr. President, it would never for a moment have occurred to me to impugn your veracity." How Lewis Carroll would have chuckled over the ironies of posthumous fame.

Wharton and Happiness

New York Observer Review of The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud.

'There are lots of ways to be miserable," Edith Wharton once wrote, "but there's only one way of being comfortable, and that's to stop running around after happiness." In the hundred years since Wharton published these words, Americans, especially the cultural elite, have not learned their lesson.

In New York City, the setting of Wharton's finest fictions -- and where "success" and "happiness" are often used interchangeably -- there's a clock tick-tocking by the bedside of every aspiring young writer or intellectual. If your debut novel hasn't landed by the time you turn 30, you're washed up. If you haven't earned tenure by 40, pack it up. You're through.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

About Wyndclyffe

"History vs. the Bulldozer" from Newsday:

On a wooded river bluff in Rhinecliff, N.Y., a Romanesque castle called Wyndclyffe stands boarded up, its roof partly caved in. Surrounded by comparably modest getaways of recent vintage, its once-ample grounds have shrunk to a two-acre lot. This crumbling castle, built in 1853 for an aunt of Gilded Age chronicler Edith Wharton - the spinster Elizabeth Schermerhorn Jones - it is said to have been the origin of the expression, "keeping up with the Joneses," because, when it was built, the neighbors rushed to gussy up their own millionaire manors.

Wyndclyffe is among the few dozen imperiled monuments profiled in "Hudson Valley Ruins," by Thomas Rinaldi and Robert J. Yasinsac (University Press of New England, 356 pp., $35).

It takes a middle road between the extravagant picture-book of erstwhile luxury estates and the scholarly architectural catalog, giving overviews of endangered sites by region, and telling in detail the life stories of several properties in each area.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A. R. Gurney and Edith Wharton

From Backstage:

"I love the world he creates -- the way he delineates the WASP tribe, whose heroes are bound and defined by their society," says Lamos, who also helmed Gurney's Big Bill at Lincoln Center Theater and, as artistic director of Hartford Stage, produced Gurney's Children and an adaptation of his novel The Snow Ball. Comparing the playwright to Edith Wharton, Lamos says, "I lived in New England and know the world he's talking about. He is evenhanded and the economy of his writing is unequaled. He is a miniaturist. He just tells you enough, yet the depth and psychology are there. The challenge is to find the simplicity and economy in the staging and cast actors who have sensitivity to tonal shifts that take place in the moment."