Monday, December 13, 2004

From the Miami Herald: Art's warm eccentricity is poetry of `Ice Glen'

At its best, art inspires, provokes, illuminates. In playwright Joan Ackermann's Ice Glen, a poet's art does all that and something else: It warms and restores grieving souls.
. . .

Denby (Carlo Albán), a developmentally disabled young man whose parents were killed in fire, brings both sunniness and mild chaos into the household. And the attractively disheveled Sarah Harding (Stacia Rice) wanders the sun-dappled woods, communing with nature and one particular bear, turning her experiences into exquisite poetry.

The catalyst for change arrives in the person of Atlantic Monthly editor Peter Woodburn (Brian Goranson), who has been given three of Sarah's poems by novelist Edith Wharton. Captivated and moved by the work of a woman he regards as an undiscovered genius, Peter is determined to publish the poems. But Sarah, the woodland wanderer with the dirt-brushed face and leaves entangled in her hair, will have none of it; the words, she says, are hers, and they are private

Sunday, December 05, 2004

From The Times (London)
Directions: Books of the week
Anthony Sattin

The Cruise of the Vanadis by Edith Wharton (Bloomsbury £16.99)
Literary discoveries often come about through luck — a chance find of a bundle of papers in an attic or an auction catalogue. Claudine Lesage made hers in the municipal library in Hyères, southern France, where she found an unpublished typescript describing a journey made by the American writer Edith Wharton.

Wharton is best known as the Pulitzer-winning author of novels such as The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth, but she also wrote about her travels — In Morocco, an account of a journey made at the end of the first world war, has just been reissued (Tauris Parke Paperbacks £8.99). There was no account, however, of Wharton’s first venture into the Mediterranean, in 1888, when, at 26, Wharton, with her husband and some friends, sailed from Marseilles to Algiers, where they chartered a yacht.

Sailing through the Mediterranean spring, they visited Tunis and Malta, went on to Sicily and Corfu, cruised through the Cyclades to Rhodes, then back through the islands to Athens and on along the Dalmatian coast.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


The Daily Reckoning PRESENTS: Americans are consuming and indebting themselves just to "keep up with the Jones." But did you ever wonder who this infamous Jones was? In this classique essay that ran on Sept. 30 of last year, Addison Wiggin looks at the face behind the phrase...

by Addison Wiggin

"Guys, here's a rich metaphor for you," writes friend and colleague Porter Stansberry. "The house that originally spawned the term 'keeping up with the Jones' and which led to the building of gaudy mansions on the Hudson River is collapsing and in disrepair..."

The story was printed in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. "It was the original McMansion" grand it had its own name: Wyndclyffe. The house was built in 1853 by Edith Wharton's spinster aunt, Elizabeth Schermerhorn Jones, and kicked off a flurry of mansion building up the Hudson River Valley. Wyndclyffe sported a four-story tower, 24 rooms, 80 acres of lawn and "sweeping river views."

After the completion of the Jones house, turret towers and extra wings began appearing on nearby homes - hence the now-famous phrase, "keeping up with the Jones." Nowadays, the maxim illustrates the modern desire of suburban Americans to keep up taking out home equity loans to buy Humvees and home theater systems.

. . . . .

P.S. "Miss Jones, Edith Wharton's spinster aunt," the WSJ article states, "was a cousin to the Astors and entertained William and Henry James in the mansion. After she died, the house was purchased by Andrew Finck, a brewer who, legend has it, set up a beer tap that flowed from the basement to the tennis courts. During the Depression [the last great credit-goosed financial disaster to visit the land], Wyndclyffe was neglected, like many other lavish houses of the time. Then it had a string of owners, most of whom didn't live in the house or make repairs. Neighbors say Wyndclyffe briefly housed a nudist colony in the mid- century."

The ruins are apparently littered with garbage and frequently used by bands of nosed-ringed teenagers, dressed in black and sporting Matrix-style long coats. When asked what should be done with the ruins, Charles Eggert, who owned Wyndclyffe in the '60s and '70s, said, "Maybe some crazy idiot will buy it. I think it should be torn down."

Thursday, September 30, 2004

From a long article by Charles McGrath on Edith Wharton's New York (from the New York Times; free registration required):

On Wharton's map, civilization ends north of Central Park, except for satellites in Newport, Rhinebeck and Tuxedo Park. Her New York is very slender — it stretches from Third Avenue to Sixth, essentially — and its center is what is now the campus of New York University. If Steinberg had drawn Wharton's New York, he would have shown it from the point of view of someone looking through the Washington Square Arch.

. . . . .

Besides the north-south axis, the other great demarcation in Wharton's New York is the one dividing east from west. The East Side is where the fashionable young people live, like Lawrence Selden from "The House of Mirth," who has rooms at the Benedick, at 50th and Madison, or Newland and May Archer, who after their wedding settle in a brand-new house on East 39th, a neighborhood both remote and a little experimental, where the younger architects are beginning to use "ghastly greenish yellow stone . . . as a protest against the brownstone of which the uniform hue coated New York like a cold chocolate sauce."

The West Side is where the vulgar hotels are; it's also where the poor and the oddballs live, like the inhabitants of the strange little neighborhood on West 23rd where Madame Olenska briefly resides in "The Age of Innocence": "small dressmakers, bird-stuffers and `people who wrote.' " The farther west you go, apparently, the more things run down; Lily Bart's downfall is so complete that she winds up living in a boarding house so many blocks west of Sixth that the railings are no longer painted and garbage is carelessly strewn around.

Not a lot of real work gets done in Wharton's New York — except by the seamstresses in the workroom at Madame Regina's renowned millinery establishment, where Lily briefly finds employment. Some of the younger men, like Newland Archer, dabble at legal careers, but not so seriously that they can't take months off to go to Europe or to Newport. This is a world that is financed for the most part by inherited wealth, and where people from the middle and working classes are seldom glimpsed. Even the servants are invisible, and so is the bustle of immigrant life that so impressed Wharton's contemporary William Dean Howell[s].
From the (Glasgow) Herald:

GLASGOW's lord provost, Liz Cameron, is hoping that the annual conference of the Association of Film Commissioners International coming to Glasgow will mean even more films being shot in the city. She named House of Mirth, based on Edith Wharton's Victorian novel, as her favourite movie filmed in Glasgow.
"Glasgow became nineteenth-century New York," recalled Liz, whose City Chambers office was transformed into a New York hotel bedroom. "Nothing saucy happened," she assures us. "Edith Wharton stories aren't like that … and I wasn't there."

Sunday, September 12, 2004

From The New York Times: "Edith Wharton: A Manhattan Literary Giant Who Didn't Love New York" (free registration required).

(Includes pictures of Wharton's houses)

Edith Newbold Jones, as she was called at birth, was born in 1862 to George Frederic Jones and his wife, the former Lucretia Rhinelander, both from genteel families with roots in 18th century New York. In 1857 they built a brownstone at 14 West 23rd Street. The house as the family knew it is long gone, but an early photograph shows a wide, Anglo-Italianate-style brownstone mansion four stories high, with rusticated stone on the ground floor and simple window moldings on the floors above. The Jones house had a certain repose about it — it might have been designed by a master builder, or perhaps even a real architect.

Still, the young Wharton was apparently not impressed. Combined with New York's unimaginative grid plan, the relentless rows compared poorly with London, Paris and other European cities, she said in her 1933 memoir, "A Backward Glance." In her opinion, all that brownstone rendered New York "hide-bound in its deadly uniformity of mean ugliness."

. . .

After George Jones's death, Edith and her mother moved to a lesser row house at 28 West 25th Street. They were living there in March of 1885 when Edith married Edward Robbins Wharton, from Boston. The New York Times noted her nickname, saying that the bride had been "better known as Miss Pussy Jones," and called her one of the "Washington-square" set — apparently a reference to her long family history in New York.

After their marriage, the Whartons lived abroad, in Newport, and occasionally in New York, in a succession of buildings, including a row house at 884 Park Avenue, between 78th and 79th Street. Although she was often abroad, Wharton had to be in New York to collaborate with the architect Ogden Codman on her first important book, "The Decoration of Houses," published in 1897, a rejection of the heavy Victorian mansions of her parents' era.

. . .

Like nearly all of the other known homes of Edith Wharton in New York, 884 Park has been demolished, but the stable she used while on Park still survives, at 111 East 77th Street. It has some delicate little stone carving around the windows, but she bought the stable already completed, so it is doubtful her hand is evident in the design.

. . .

The Jones family house on 23rd Street was altered repeatedly and is now unrecognizable outside. The house at 28 West 25th Street was demolished, but anyone who seeks to recapture a touch of Edith Wharton's New York should still visit the south side of the street, west of Broadway, where she lived with her mother until her marriage in 1885.

From there the young Edith Jones looked across the street to what is now the Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Sava, at 15 West 25th Street. In 1885 it was Trinity Chapel, and it was there she married. A visitor can usually peek into St. Sava on Sundays, when services are held at 10:30 a.m., and the interior has hardly changed since the Jones-Wharton wedding. Outside, the front steps sag with the weight of generations, but on her wedding day, Edith Jones would probably not have gone in through this door — only out.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

From The Boston Globe:

This weekend, though, fans of the public Newport can get glimpses of the private Newport, in its gardens if not in its homes. A tour organized by the group Benefactors of the Arts has gained access to the grounds of the New York Yacht Club and six private gardens, including one owned by retired US senator Claiborne Pell and his wife, Nuala, and another across the street that was once owned by author Edith Wharton.
Maureen Dowd in

Becky Sharp is not Dowd's favorite heroine, nor is "Vanity Fair" her favorite book. That honor goes to the Edith Wharton novel whose tragic class- hopping heroine, Lily Bart, she compares to a certain ex-president.

"My favorite book is 'The House of Mirth' because it reminds me of Washington. It's a very tight little society. You make one false step, and they can kick you down," she said. "The Clinton impeachment was like that. He's like the heroine in 'The House of Mirth' -- you make one false move that shouldn't really ruin your life ..."

Thursday, August 26, 2004

From Flak magazine (online)

The 1920s saw the literary emergence of Evelyn Waugh, Aldous Huxley, Graham Greene and Anthony Powell, but among these titans of the English comic and tragicomic, novelist William Gerhadie was the brightest star. Greene would later say, "To those of my generation he was the most important new novelist to appear in our young life. We were proud of his early and immediate success, like men who have spotted the right horse."

Yet for all Gerhardie's early success — his first novel was extravagantly praised by the likes of Edith Wharton and Katherine Mansfield, while Gerhardie was hailed by Waugh with the il miglior fabbro touch of "I have talent, but he had genius" — Gerhardie would die in obscurity and poverty in 1977.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

From the Seattle Times.

WASHINGTON — Susan Mary Alsop, 86, the grand dame of Washington society whose Georgetown dinner parties epitomized the nexus of political power and social arrival in the 1960s, died Wednesday of complications from pneumonia at her home.

Mrs. Alsop's dining room was considered the absolute center of Georgetown's social scene at a time when President Kennedy's arrival energized the once-sleepy capital.
. . .

As a teenager, she had tea with Edith Wharton and was disappointed that the great writer was "a gossipy old girl," she told a visitor 11 years ago. As the young wife of an embassy official in Paris, she was often seated beside British Prime Minister Winston Churchill when she wasn't drinking champagne with Noel Coward and the Duke of Windsor.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Excerpt from Wharton's The Cruise of the Vanadis, to be published in November by Bloomsbury Press:
The Cathedral of Monreale, with Spalato and Athos, had been the chief object of my pilgrimage, and I must confess to a feeling of disappointment when I found myself face to face with it. The exterior I had not expected to like; for that exotic mingling of Saracenic and northern invention, which has produced such wonderful interiors, never, as far as I know, created a façade that really satisfied the eye. The curious blending of the two styles is always interesting, and there are beautiful effects of detail in the flat wall arcades of Monreale, but the effect of the whole shows the lack of what the Germans call a Grundidee.

The interior is, of course, magnificent, but to eyes accustomed to St Mark's, it lacks depth and variety of colour; it seems to me that for this bright climate it is too much lighted. Of course I know that in saying this I am running counter to the opinion of the highest authorities; but this Journal is written not to record other people's opinions, but to note as exactly as possible the impression which I myself received. The clerestory windows of Monreale are very large and high, and pour down a flood of light upon the beautiful columns and the gorgeous mosaics; but I longed for a little shadow and mystery to break in upon the blaze of colour.
From a long essay on Wharton by Hermione Lee, author of a new biography of Wharton, in The Guardian .
I am writing a life of Edith Wharton, the great American novelist who lived from 1862 to 1937. This work has involved me in some wonderful journeys, because as well as writing 45 books, Wharton was also a traveller, a wartime administrator, a house designer and a gardener. She thought architecturally - in an early story she says "a woman's nature is like a great house full of rooms" - and to visit her houses is also to understand her character and her way of life. The first two houses she decorated, soon after her unfortunate marriage to Teddy Wharton, were in Newport, Rhode Island, but her third house, which she had designed and built, was The Mount, built on a hillside in Lenox, Massachusetts, between 1901 and 1902. Her friend Henry James called it a "delicate French chateau mirrored in a Massachusetts pond". It was certainly designed - by the architect Francis Hoppin, with some indoor help from Ogden Codman - with Europe in mind.You can see reflected in it the principles of design she had expressed in her first book, co-authored with Codman in 1897, The Decoration of Houses. She wanted to import European style to American house design, but not in a superficial or flashy way. The Mount cost about $80,000 all told, but that was much less than some of the other grandiose millionaires' "cottages" in Lenox.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

From the Hartford Courant's site (free registration required):

But the garden restoration, which began two years ago, already comes close to replicating Wharton's original design and appearance.

There are a few nods to modern inconveniences. A deer fence now rings the property to keep out unwanted, four-legged dinner guests. In Wharton's time, deer had plenty of open woodlands to munch on. And the hemlock hedge surrounding the central garden has been replaced with two species of arborvitae because a pest has scourged hemlocks in the region recently.

Wharton liked symmetry and, as she did in the house, used little tricks to give her gardens the illusion of balance where true symmetry was impossible.The staircase leads to a gravel walkway lined with linden trees. The corridor, called the Lime Walk because lindens are known as lime trees in England, serves as a boulevard connecting her two major gardens.

Facing the house and walking left, the path leads to a walled garden inspired by the beloved secret gardens of Italy. Sunken and enclosed by vine-covered walls, the garden feels peaceful and secluded.

Hostas line the paths, where Wharton once used baby's breath. There is a legend that Wharton snuck into her neighbor's yard to dig up the ferns interspersed among the hostas, but nobody knows for sure.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004


One of Lenox’s most famous summer residents was George Westinghouse, who built Erskine Park. Westinghouse, as Blalock will point out, built his own electric generator on the property. There is the possibility that his next-door neighbor, Edith Wharton, had electrical power at her estate, The Mount, connected to that generator.

From the Asia Times:

Quotable: "The asylum of wealth is a gilded cage, sumptuous in its décor, but stupefying it its vacuity." - Edith Wharton

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

From the Victorville (California) Daily Press:
Writers can't tell if a phrase "sounds right" unless they have heard and read good English.No one knew this better than Lucretia Rhinelander Jones, Edith Wharton's mother.

In Chapter III of her autobiography, "A Backward Glance" (1934), Wharton wrote:"I was never allowed to read the popular American children's books of my day because, as my mother said, the children spoke bad English without the author's knowing it...."I remember it was only with reluctance, and because 'all the other children read them,' that my mother consented to my reading 'Little Women' and 'Little Men'; and my ears, trained to the fresh racy English of 'Alice in Wonderland,' 'The Water Babies' and 'The Princess and the Goblin,' were exasperated by the laxities of the great Louisa."If that sounds a mite too precious, consider a second reason why children's books are important: because they provide adventure and a safe place.
From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
 Psst! Did you hear?The hit Gossip Girl teen novels invoke Jane Austen, but racier and packed with product placements. Whatever, their heroine might say - they sell.

"The first novel in the paperback franchise, which debuted in spring 2002, was modeled on Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence, says von Ziegesar, whose omniscient blogger offers tart observations of the world she inhabits.
"Rehab and college are actually very similar as far as status is concerned," Gossip Girl muses in a typical Web posting. "Getting into the best ones is highly competitive, but once you're in, you're in."

Sunday, July 25, 2004

From the Boothbay (Maine) Register:

Intermezzo will perform two contemporary one-act operas sung in English. The first, Menotti's "The Telephone," is a humorous look at love and that common household item, the telephone. The second act is "The Letter," by Brian Hulse and is based on an Edith Wharton short story set in 1905. Brian Hulse is the 2004 composer in residence for Intermezzo.

From the Chicago Tribune (free registration required):

Too often, women's voices -- especially the voices of women whose lives were associated with domestic tasks -- went unheard, as Olsen noted. Edith Wharton made the point beautifully in her short story "The Fullness of Love" (1893), about an intelligent woman saddled with a dull, unappreciative husband: "But I have sometimes thought that a woman's nature is like a great house full of rooms: there is the hall, through which everyone passes going in and out; the drawing room, where one receives visitors . . . but beyond that, far beyond, are other rooms, the handles of whose doors perhaps one never turned; no one knows the way to them, no one knows whither they lead; and in the innermost room, the holy of holies, the soul sits alone and waits for a footstep that never comes." Until the 20th Century, when women's lives were unshackled and their imaginations sought creative expression, the world missed many treasures because no one bothered to look.

Monday, July 12, 2004

On Bernard-Henri Levy from the Seattle Times:

"He's one of what Edith Wharton called the 'happy people of the world,' " said Gilles Hertzog, an old friend and editor of the journal Rule of the Game, which he co-founded with Levy in 1989.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

From the New York Times on author Lynn Nottage:

Ms. Nottage said that a profile in The New Yorker helped her shape the character of Undine. "I read this article about Condoleezza Rice, and I said: `This is exactly who I'm talking about. A person who has such a single-minded pursuit of success that they are willing to give up anything.' "

Undine, incidentally, is named after Undine Spragg, a character from the Edith Wharton novel "The Custom of the Country," who reinvents herself upon moving to New York. "Undine believes that to survive in the professional world, you have to sever ties to your family," Ms. Nottage said. "It's a big issue. It's one of the unspoken issues in the African-American community."

Sunday, May 30, 2004

From an interview with Plum Sykes, author, in the New York Times:

Do you think the label chick-lit is a fair description of your work?

Honestly, if Edith Wharton published ''The Custom of the Country'' now, it would be considered chick-lit.
It's a way to kind of suppress these books, which are doing very well.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

From a review of Americans in Paris:

Edith Wharton settled in Paris in the 1890s and was there to see the city transformed by the mobilization that began France's engagement in World War I. From the comfort of a window table in a restaurant on the Rue Royale, she sees the street flooded with conscripts on foot, headed for the railway stations, and "every cab and taxi and motor-omnibus had disappeared. The War Office had thrown out its drag-net and caught them all in."

She describes watching "the gradual paralysis of the city." Within the first week, she writes, two-thirds of the shops had closed, with a notice indicating the patron and staff were at the front, and most of the hotels had closed or "were being hastily transformed into hospitals," anticipating the wounded. "In a night, it seemed, the whole city was hung with Red Crosses."

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Voice of America program on Edith Wharton (transcript):

A critic once described American writer Edith Wharton as a "self-made man." She liked the comment and repeated it. Others said she was a product of New York City. But the New York she wrote about was different from the New York of those who came after her.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

From the Oregonian (Alice Walker on Wharton)
Later, Walker says an appreciation for books is best developed by reading exciting work. She loved to read because her family did.

Walker says students want to know how writers live because they think it's glamorous -- "There you are in your garret with your laptop."

"What are you reading?" she asks the students. Several call out, "You," but one girl says, "Edith Wharton."

"Edith Wharton?" Walker says. "Oh, my goodness. I can't do much with Edith. But let's get back to Dickens."

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

From the New York Times (article includes a picture of the site)
Construction of a 27-story glass and concrete building has begun at the northeast corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue - on a lot vacant for more than a decade that once held the mansion in which Edith Wharton made her society debut in 1879.

Monday, April 19, 2004

From the Berkshire Herald

Lenox - Benjamin Moore & Co., the national paint manufacturer, has continued its support of The Mount, Edith Wharton’s estate and gardens, with a donation of $20,000. This grant money is earmarked for research and restoration of the original paint colors used in Wharton’s 800-sq.-ft. bedroom suite at The Mount.

Beginning this month, the new funding will be used to complete high-tech analysis of paint colors in Wharton’s boudoir. Later this year, The Mount will launch a study of colors in her adjacent bedroom and bathroom. Based on results of the work, the rooms will be repainted in historically-accurate colors.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

No Edith Wharton for Borges
from the Toronto Globe and Mail
Borges was strange, even bizarre, in his reading habits. His grandmother had been English, and he loved Anglo-Saxon poems so much that he learned to read Old English in order to enjoy them. He also embraced Virgil and Homer, and a host of difficult writers from the Renaissance to the 20th century.

At the same time, he was a huge fan of detective and science-fiction novels. He worshipped what are still considered middlebrow authors like Kipling and Robert Louis Stevenson (Manguel's novella, Stevenson under the Palm Trees (Thomas Allen, 2003), is a kind of tribute to Borges's obsession with the author of Treasure Island).

Borges also memorized tango lyrics and "atrocious verses by long-dead poets." At the same time, he casually disliked and cast aside many of the "great" writers. "You could do a history of literature with the novels he didn't like," observes Manguel. Borges's hit list included Jane Austen, Cervantes, Edith Wharton and Garcia Lorca.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

From an article on an "Edible Book Festival" (Albany, N. Y.):

William S. Burroughs' 'Naked Lunch' brings an afternoon fare to mind. And works from John Steinbeck's 'Grapes of Wrath,' and W. Somerset Maugham 'Cake and Ale,' to Walt Whitman's 'Leaves of Grass,' and Edith Wharton's 'Fruit of the Tree' are enjoyable anytime, day or night. From bitter fruit to sweet sauce, the possibilities are endless.
From the Montreal Gazette:
"It's hard to think of that term as being anything other than derogatory," she [Tana Janowitz] replied over the phone from Brooklyn. "Because they certainly didn't call men's writing 'Boy Books.' Chick Lit usually means the book is written in the first person of a girl looking for a man - with a lot of punchy one-liners."

That's the contemporary take. "But if you're thinking of women's writing of the 20th century," she continued, "women's books going back to Edith Wharton certainly do have much more to do with the pursuit of love and happiness as opposed to men's books of the 20th century. They are different. I suppose Olivia Manning was one of the few writers in a war zone, dealing to a degree with politics. And that was supposed to be the realm of male writers, like Graham Greene or Evelyn Waugh."

Saturday, March 20, 2004

From the New York Times:
In Edith Wharton's circle, a lady who worked as a dressmaker was no lady. When Lily Bart, the ill-starred adventuress of "The House of Mirth," was finally reduced to working as a milliner, her exile from society was all but complete. That, of course, was before Mlle. Chanel changed the meaning of the term "designing woman" and established that black and white works better as a design statement than as a way of judging others.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Of course, Paul Bowles was attracted to Fez. So was Edith Wharton. And so continue to be hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit the Moroccan city that's famous for its 1,000-year-old medina (the non-European part of a north African city).

Monday, March 08, 2004

From the Washington Post

Win One for the Flipper

By Marjorie Williams
Sunday, March 7, 2004; Page B07

I've been trying, really I have. As a charter member of the ABB Society -- Anybody But Bush -- I've tried not to fret over the alarmingly tautological nature of John Kerry's victory. He was inevitable because voters picked him to win because he had won over earlier voters and therefore must be a winner. I've tried not to worry over the fact that he has all the social bonhomie of one of Edith Wharton's ambivalent society stiffs. We know that some crucial part of the presidential electorate votes on impressions of likability, but I've assured myself that between now and November Kerry will warm up.

--Submitted by Abby Werlock

Saturday, March 06, 2004

From Hermione Lee's review of The Selected Stories of Mavis Gallant (in The Guardian):
In "A Flying Start", one of Gallant's American ladies in Paris holds court in a sombre dining room overshadowed by a tree "grown from a sapling presented by Edith Wharton". In her youth she "had been allowed to peer round the door and watch her renowned compatriot eating sole meunière. She had not been presented to Mrs Wharton, who was divorced." This little tribute is apt as well as funny: Gallant has something of Wharton's fine, cool eye for social shifts and conflicts. And like Wharton she is a refugee from a culture she couldn't wait to get away from, but often returns to in her work.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Boston's Huntington Theatre Company will present its first Breaking Ground Festival, March 18-21, which will feature readings of four new play commissions — including a new Stephen Belber (Match, Tape) work — and a new musical based on the Edith Wharton novel "House of Mirth." . . .
The Festival continues March 21 at 3 PM with a reading of the new American musical Lily by Brooks Ashmanskas (music and lyrics) and Peter Flynn (book). The new adaptation, based on Edith Wharton's classic novel "House of Mirth," centers on the title character's rise and fall among high society in New York at the beginning of the 20th century.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

From Ellen Goodman's column: Remember spinsters? Remember old maids? A century ago, a woman who didn't get married ended up like Edith Wharton's Lily Bart, broke and downing laudanum. When Susan B. Anthony turned 50, the headline in the New York Sun even called the mother of us all a "Brave Old Maid."

Thursday, February 19, 2004

From the Boston Globe:

The Breaking Ground Festival, which runs from March 18 through 21, will feature readings of works in progress by writers commissioned through the Huntington playwriting fellowship program, along with a reading of a new musical, "Lily," based on Edith Wharton's novel "The House of Mirth."

Sunday, February 08, 2004

From The Guardian:
"So what does make us happy? Edith Wharton apparently said that happiness is the sublime moment when you get out of your corsets. Having burnt my bra in the Seventies on my mother's instructions I can't say I know how that feels. But I know what she means."

Thursday, January 29, 2004

From The Chronicle of Higher Education:

THE BANANA AND ITS PUBLIC: A century ago, the banana was still a relative novelty in the United States. In certain people's eyes, it even carried an aura of vulgarity. In the summer of 1904, Edith Wharton wrote to a friend about an unhappy stay at a new hotel: "Such dreariness, such whining callow women. ... What a horror it is for a whole nation to be developing without a sense of beauty and eating bananas for breakfast."

Wharton's aesthetic scruples notwithstanding, the banana was cheaper, higher in calories, and easier to store than most of its rival fruits. As international shipping expanded, bananas soon became popular among Americans of all classes. In 1940, more than 52 million bunches were imported. And as the industry grew, it disrupted and transformed the economies, cultures, and political structures of the banana-exporting countries of Latin America. The new anthology Banana Wars: Power, Production and History in the Americas (Duke University Press) sheds light on the complexities of the industry's social and economic history, deconstructing the already familiar images of the muscular United Fruit Company and its "banana republics" and moving beyond them.

Friday, January 16, 2004

From the Washington Post:
Torque n. the film that features a villain named Henry James, conjuring the tantalizing image of Edith Wharton riding shotgun wearing a "Fear This" tattoo and a Ramones T-shirt.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

From the International Herald Tribune:
Marcel Proust, "Proust of the Ritz," as he was called, dined there often with the "gratin," or upper crust, eyed the pageboys and gossiped intently with the ambiguous Olivier. Edith Wharton, on the other hand, detested the place. Paris ladies, said one of her acquaintances, could be divided into two groups: "Ritz and anti-Ritz. The anti-Ritz class contains only Mrs. Edith Wharton."

Saturday, January 10, 2004

"Also today, Judith Anderson and Helen Menken star in the opening night of The Old Maid, Zoe Akins' adaptation of Edith Wharton's novel about two sisters in love with the same man during the Civil War. It wins the Pulitzer Prize for drama and runs 305 performances at the Empire Theatre."From the PLAYBILL site's "Today in Theater History" for January 7: "1935