2001-2002 Queries and Student Queries
|Date of “Bunner Sisters”I was wondering if anyone had any concrete evidence as to when Wharton actually composed “Bunner Sisters.” Though it did not appear until 1916 in Scribner’s, its style is much earlier. I have found a few allusions to such in the criticism, but no consensus. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Randolph F. Handel
|Shari Benstock (in NO GIFTS FROM CHANCE) gives the date of composition of “Bunner Sisters” as 1893. However, in a letter to Edward Burlingame dated Nov 25 1893, Wharton alludes to “Bunner Sisters” as a story that she sent to Burlingame “a year or two ago.” Wharton continues: “You then pronounced it too long for one number of the magazine,and unsuited to serial publication, but you spoke otherwise very kindly of it, and though I am not a good judge of what I write, it seems to me, after several careful reading, up to my average of writing.”Sorry that I do not have a record of the first correspondence on the story.
|Relationships in The Age of Innocence
QUESTION: I have a question about The Age of Innocence: What relation would Aunt Medora Manson really be to Ellen? Is this the daughter that Mrs. Manson Mingott, Ellen’s grandmother, married to a marquis? If so, why would her last name be Manson, which was presumably the first name of Mrs. Mingott’s late husband (and probably Mr. Mingott’s mother’s maiden name)? Thanks very much.
Claire Keaveney, email@example.com
|QUESTION: As far as I can tell, Catherine (Mrs. Manson) Mingott must have had at least five children: Lovell Mingott, Augusta (later Welland, May’s mother), the unnamed daughter she married to a Marquis, the unnamed daughter she married to an English banker, and an unnamed son who is Ellen’s father. I base this on the fact that Ellen is Catherine’s granddaughter and her maiden name is Mingott.Also, because Medora Manson’s mother was “a Rushworth,” Medora cannot be Catherine’s daughter, so she must be Ellen’s maternal aunt. Thus Medora and Ellen’s mother shared a maiden name, not known.
However, in the book Medora was criticized for wearing a veil that’s too short while in mourning for her brother, and at the same time Ellen, a child, isn’t dressed in black though she should have been in mourning for her parents. This makes it sound as though Medora’s brother is Ellen’s father — but that can’t be. A mistake on Wharton’s part? A reference to a brother of Medora’s who just happened to die not long after Ellen’s parents died?
Also puzzling to me is the relationship between Medora, Catherine Mingott, and Regina Dallas Beaufort. Regina is referred to as Medora’s (and Ellen’s) “cousin,” which could indicate any number of blood or marriage relationships, and she is Catherine Mingott’s grand-niece.
The book says that the Mingotts are related to the Dallases “through the Thorleys.” So the scenario I came up with is that a sister of Manson Mingott (Catherine had no siblings) married a Thorley, then had a daughter who married a Dallas, a union which produced Regina. That would make Regina Catherine’s grand-niece as indicated, and would make her Ellen’s second cousin and Medora’s first cousin by marriage once removed (I think)! But I’m not sure about the nature of the Thorley connection.
NAME: Tess Avelland, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Changing Names in House of MirthQUESTION: I’ve noticed a character name change in House of Mirth between editions. Could someone tell me why Bertie Van Osburgh is sometimes named Freddie Van Osburgh, depending on the date of the edition? I’m looking at several recent editions, including the Modern Library one (Bertie) and the Bantam Classic (Freddie).
|Very observant! The answer, according to R. W. B. Lewis (from his intro to an edition of The House of Mirth; see below for reference) is that at some point during her revisions, Wharton renamed “Bertie” to “Freddy;” the manuscript shows “Bertie,” whereas “Freddy” appears instead in all but two places in Scribner’s first edition. So, essentially, it was a typo. Most “scholarly” editions replace the two instances of “Bertie” with “Freddy,” since that was apparently Wharton’s intention.Lewis, R. W. B. ed. The House of Mirth. By Edith Wharton. 1905. Boston:Houghton, 1963.
|Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton
NAME: Elizabeth N. RaupersQUESTION: I have recently finished “The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton” and I am wondering what kind of approach Wharton is taking in these writings. Both Henry James and Edith Wharton were said to have thought the spiritualist movement to be entirely ridiculous, so what then motivated her to write a colection of ghost stories during this time? Is she writing it to show psychological implications, because of some long-ignored belief, or simply because of the attention given to spirit mediums, and ghost encounters?? What is she trying to show?4/19/01
|Story about Wedding Night
I have a strange question, but it is something that I have been trying to find for 10 years without success. I was once given a photocopy of a short story, or piece thereof, in which Edith Wharton describes an evening between a new bride and husband, in which he apologizes for taking her quickly for the first time, but explains that it allows for a more sensual and feeling consumation of the marriage subsequent. I don’t know if it falls into her short story, romance, or (perhaps?) erotica classifications, but I am extremely curious to learn the name of this piece of work. I know that this is very little information with which to work, but would you have any idea of what I am describing?
Thank you for your kind attention,
|I believe that the piece you may be referring to is Beatrice Palmato. It was a fragment that Edith Wharton did not finish, and did not want published. It is actually a story about a father with his daughter (who had just been married to another man). I found the story in Cynthia Griffin Wolff’s book, A Feast of Words on page 300. I hope this is what you were looking for!Katy V.|
|Lady Angelica du Lac in Age of Innocence
Does Gainsborough’s “Lady Angelica du Lac” (from the Age of Innocence) actually exist? Is this picture misnamed, or did Wharton make an error? Thanks in advance for your response.
|According to Candace Waid’s edition of the work (see above), this is “a fictitious portrait” (33, n. 1).|
|“Roman Fever” in Public Domain?
In rummaging through some on-line Websites containing information of Wharton and her works I noticed that the story, “Roman Fever” appears on many various pages throughout the web in full text form. Are these sites posting her work illegally or is it public domain? I’ve emailed some of the sites directly and have yet to get a response. My interest in this anomaly is as a fellow Wharton devotee and a fellow writer as well.
|According to the Watkins Loomis Agency, “Edith Wharton’s ‘Roman Fever’ does not enter the public domain until 2029.”Daniel Hefko
University of Illinois[Note: Technically, these would not be legal editions unless the person who posted the story had received permission from the Watkins Loomis agency, which handles permissions for Wharton's work. In general, all work published after 1923 is subject to copyright laws; "Roman Fever" was first published in November 1934.--D. Campbell]
|Edith Wharton’s Reading and Biblical Allusions
I am doing some work on Wharton’s use of biblical quotes and inscriptions, particularly in House of Mirth. If you know of any articles or texts that address this, please let me know. Also, are there any compiled
lists of Wharton’s reading? This would be very helpful. Pamela Francis, email@example.com
|There is no single, definitive list of Wharton’s reading, but here are some resources that deal with Wharton’s reading
and her use of allusion. (To site visitors: Please send other suggestions ).Helen Killoran, Edith Wharton’s Art of Allusion
Carol Singley, Edith Wharton: Matters of Mind and Spirit
George Ramsden, Edith Wharton’s Library: A Catalogue. Settrington, Stone Trough Books, 1999 With a foreword by Hermione Lee. 25 x. 16.5 cm. xxxiii, 153 pp. Numbered edition of 350 copies. ISBN 0 9529534 5 5
|Edith Wharton Allusion in The Bandwagon
Before I begin, I would like to say that (for me) this is a serious inquiry. I am a producer in Boston who is involved in reconstructing a 1931 musical revue entitled “The Band Wagon”. In one of the skits, there are a couple of lines that make no sense at all to me. It takes place between a salesman of bathroom fittings and a rather upstanding customer. The salesman says, “Very simple, madam. That’s our motto –everything for the bath.” and she reponds, “I see. Everything.”. The salesman then says, “Absolutely everything.” And then the female customer says, “Have you that new book of Edith Wharton’s?”
I’m assuming that this is clearly this is a cryptic joke about something that Ms. Wharton either wrote or did in 1931, but the only thing I can find is that she did some work on “Ethan Frome” and a book entitled “Certain People”. Still, not knowing either of these works well, I am not able to explain the joke. Can someone elucidate me about this? I’m would be eternally grateful.
Brad Conner Conner@law.harvard.edu
|I realize others on the EW discussion list may already have gotten to your note, but I would say here that you may want to consult a chronology of works by Wharton. I bet you could find this on the web; you also could see Shari Benstock’s biography, No Gifts From Chance; chronology begins on p 468. Certain People, incidentally, is a collection of short stories; it’s possible one of the titles might resonate for you. I don’t think it would be a reference to Ethan Frome, a novella she would’ve published several years prior to that. It’s also possible that the “new book” is a reference to her novel Hudson River Bracketed (1929), which takes its name from an architectural style. I wish I could be more helpful. Please let us know if you find anything.Best wishes,
Emily Orlando 9/20/01
I can’t give you a specific reference, but I would be willing to bet the joke has something to do with whether or not the bath suite includes a bidet, an appliance common in Europe at the time but virtually unknown on this side of the Atlantic until more recent times. –Gerald Everett JonesSomeone has just written me and said that maybe it is a sly reference to the length of her books and that it is a humorous reference to providing “reading material”. Is there a common knowledge about the length of her novels? –Brad Conner 9/20/01
The bidet theory works for me because the humor pays off, and it’s consistent with Wharton’s attitudes. She was a member of the American aristocracy at a time when they were very eager to be identified with European culture. For example, in the late 19th century, American painters were not hot commercially until they had a reputation in Paris. Wharton traveled extensively in Europe, and eventually made it her permanent residence.
So, the fact that the American salesman has no idea what makes a fine lady’s bath suite complete is a put-down of his unsophistication (and also of his cluelessness as a male). Inherent in a bidet reference would be both toilet humor and sexual innuendo.
That’s my guess, anyway. –Gerald Everett Jones 9/20/01
|Edith Wharton and Bananas for Breakfast?I am a social historian of Latin America writing a book about bananas, including their material and symbolic consumption in the United States. A couple of years ago, I came across a wonderful Wharton quotation in which she described with some disdain her experiences at a new summer resort somewhere in the Berkshires. After describing the “crass manners, crass food, crass landscape” she concludes by saying something to the effect of
“how sad for a nation to not have a sense of beauty and to be eating bananas for breakfast.” (a rough paraphrase)
What I need, is the citation for this statement. I believe it dates from the late 1920s/early 1930s. This really is a serious inquiry and I will gladly
send a copy of my article to anyone who is interested in this rather unusual aspect of Wharton. (incidentally, around the same time, Faulkner and Wallace Stevens penned works with banana imagery.)Thank you,
|Wharton’s comment appears decades earlier in an August 19th, 1904 letter to Sara Norton (reprinted in Lewis’s Letters of Edith Wharton, p.92-3). Hope this helps.Best,
You are right on target about what it suggests about the exoticism of bananas at the time and cultural acceptance of or denial of those suggestions. If you haven’t already, I would take a look at the advertisements for bananas that were appearing the magazines in which EW was being serialized in the 20s. They are always presented with cereal as a breakfast food. Light always bright sunshine pouring in over them. V. interesting….
I am a scholar in the social sciences and have become enchanted while
jogging listening to Flo Gibson read Whartoniana. Can you offer several
references, book chapters or articles, that analyze the structure of Wharton’s sentences, e.g., parallelisms, counterpoints, ironies, etc. She is far more sophisticated than Henry James in structure and his heaviness should not be equated with profundity. I would also be interested in how her style reflects the values of
the Edwardian Age at the turn into the twentieth century and the decade
following. Comparing Wharton with Hemingway, for example, is an adventure in contrastiong Zeitgeists;Many thanks. Richard M. Huber
|Recording of Wharton’s Voice?QUESTION: Was Edith Wharton every recorded reading her work or talking about her work? Does any audio recording of Wharton exist? Alex Lubertozzi, firstname.lastname@example.org||Wharton scholars have discussed this informally, and no one seems to have heard of a recording of her voice, nor is such a recording referred to in her biographies. If anyone has different information, please contact this site.|
I wonder if someone would be kind enough to point me to Edith Wharton’s reference to New York society’s refusal to receive Charles Dickens. I thought it was in Old New York, but was unable to locate it.Many Thanks,
|The Dickens reference in _Old New York_ is in the novella “The Spark:”"[T]hey breathed a joint sigh over the vanished ‘Old New York’ of their youth, the exclusive and impenetrable New York to which Rubini and Jenny Lind had sung and Mr. Thackeray lectured, the New York which had declined to receive Charles Dickens, and which, out of revenge, he had so scandalously ridiculed.”
Tess Avelland, email@example.com
|“Roman Fever” a Satire?Would it be proper to call “Roman Fever” a satire?
|Twelve Poems and VersesQUESTION: Is there any readily available source for Twelve Poems (1926) and Verses (1878)?
robert louis, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Edith Wharton and the EroticQUESTION: I’m writing an article on women and the erotic; I remember reading about a year ago that Edith Wharton had written some erotica and that it was being published. Anyone got a clue about where/when/how that erotica was published?
Thanks so much.Moira Muldoon, email@example.com
|This would probably be a reference to her fragment “Beatrice Palmato.” The fragment is reprinted in Cynthia Griffin Wolff’s A Feast of Words .|
|The Story of Mary MacLaneQUESTION: The book “The Story of Mary MacLane,” by Mary MacLane, was a sensation in 1902. Supposedly MacLane’s book was highly praised by Wharton. Can anyone verify this and direct me to the source? Thanks.
N. Casady, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Title of The House of MirthQUESTION: While there is much discussion of “A Moment’s Ornament” as a working title for _The House of Mirth_, I also recall, from a lecture several years ago, that “Costs” was another working title. Yet, I have not seen any mention of this title in the biographies and criticism I have read. Can anyone direct me to a source in order to confirm “Costs” as a working title?
|Public Transportation to The Mount?I would like to visit the Edith Wharton’s home in Lenox, MA. Please let me know how I get there by Public transportation from Boston, MA. I will appreciate your cooperation in this matter.
Cordially, Penelope Morel
|The Mount may have information about this, but if any readers of this page have used public transportation to get there, please send the information so that it can be posted here.|
|Edith Wharton and Norah Lindsay I am researching the life and work of the English garden designer, Norah Lindsay. I have found in the Lindsay family letters reference to the fact that Edith Wharton was staying with Mrs. Lindsay while she was “engaged in finishing her sixteenth or seventeenth novel.” What was her sixteenth and seventeenth novel, and what year might she has been working on or finishing that novel? Thank you.
Allyson Hayward, email@example.com
|NAME: Jana DominkeQUESTION: I’m interested in Edith Wharton’s biography. I know there have been written very informative books about her biography but I would be interested in finding her personal estate.
Any help would be great because I need this information for my MA thesis.
Thanks in advance.
|Source for Quotation on “Overarching Views”QUESTION: I have lost a copy of short paragraph by Edith Wharton on the subject of marriage. It is her definition of what a good marriage requires: primary a shared view of irony. The phrase “overarching views” is part of one sentence. Unfortunately I never knew the title of the work from which this paragraph came and can’t find it anywhere. I would be very, very grateful if someone recognized the quotation and could give it to me. Thank you in advance. Joan McDonell, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|“Mountain” or “mountain” in Summer?
In her novel’s Chp. 16, Wharton apparently does not capitalize the “m” in the phrase “the Mountain” that follows the reference to Charity’s child in paragraph 5. Was this intentional on Wharton’s part or is this just an adopted typo that has made it into several editions of her book?Does this appear in Wharton’s original manuscripts of “Summer” and is there any explanation for it in Wharton’s own hand should it be the case that it was deliberate on her part?
I would be very interested to learn as much about this as possible as it would seem to lessen the Mountain’s importance to Charity in light of her expected child.
Thank you for any assistance you may be able to provide me on this question.
Sincerely, Elizabeth A. Smith email@example.com
|Paper on Age of Innocence.
QUESTION: Hi~ I have to do a paper on a theme of Age of Innocence or a paper on the stylistic methods that Edith Wharton uses in the novel. Which of the two might I find more information about? Where would be good sources for it? Thanks so much! Liesel Spangler
|Either of these would be a good topic, and you should be able to find good sources on both of them. Some good sources are on the “Recommended Reading” page at the site; if you’re working on THE AGE OF INNOCENCE, you might also want to look at the two new editions that have come out recently: Carol Singley’s Riverside edition and Candace Waid’s Norton Critical edition. Both of these have selected some of the “best of the best” essays on this novel, and you should be able to get a good sense of what critics have said about its themes and style from those. Also, you can search the bibliographies at this site by using the Search this Site feature.
1/27/01 D. Campbell
|The Mother’s Recompense and The Great Gatsby
CONTACT_VIA: Yes to e-mail address
QUESTION: I am starting my senior thesis, and Edith Wharton’s, The Mother’s Recompense is the basis for it. The Mother’s Recompense was on the best
seller’s list the same time as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby. Both
dealing with the corrupt wealthy, why is The Great Gatsby a well-known classic
today, and The Mother’s Recompense hardly known. If anyone can lead me in the direction of scholarly journals, book reviews, etc. I would really appreciate it. Also, I would be happy to hear any suggestions on improving my thesis
topic. Katie Parisien, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Here are some recent sources to consult, but if readers of this page would send additional comments on this topic, more responses would be helpful.
1/27/01 D. Campbell
I know that sounds like a lot, but for a good overview of the creation of the Am Lit/Am Studies discipline, I think David Shumway’s book (sorry, don’t have the title handy–but it is transparently on this topic once you search it) is still current and very useful. Most book-length studies of Wharton
P.S. All of us in the EW Society have fond memories of last June at Salve Regina, where we held the 2000 Society conference. It’s terrific to know that a student there is working on EW for the senior thesis. Send regards to Profs Littlefield, Harrington-Lueker, Hawkridge, and all!
|Edith Wharton and Interior DesignQUESTION: i am an interior design student writing a research paper on Wharton’s influence in the design aspect (architecture and interior), i wanted information on this specific subject, if you could suggest anything it would help!
thank you, Raina raina patteson email@example.com
|There are good sources on Edith Wharton and architecture. Her own Decoration of Houses would be a good place to start, as would work by Judith Fryer (Felicitous Space) and Annette Benert, among others. Other WHARTON-L members will probably have more suggestions. D. Campbell|
|Critical Biography on Edith Wharton
I am writing a critical biography on Edith Wharton, and I need some suggestions. Our biography is to detail significant influences on the author’s writing and surveying critics’ responses to his or her work. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions as to how I should approach my paper?? Also any information on significant influences on Edith Wharton’s writing and surveying critics’ responses her work would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. NicoleEMAILADDRESS: ColeNJM83@hotmail.com
|Your best bet will be to look at the many books already published on Edith Wharton. A lot has been written on Edith Wharton and those who influenced her work. Starting with a good biography such as those by Lewis, Benstock, or Dwight, among others, would be a good idea. You might also want to look at works such as Carol Singley’s Edith Wharton: Matters of Mind and Spirit, Helen Killoran’s Edith Wharton: Art and Allusion, Millicent Bell’s Edith Wharton and Henry James, Cynthia Griffin Wolff’s The Triumph of Edith Wharton, or various works by Adeline Tintner for a sense of what Wharton owed to other writers.Good luck with your project.
|Beginner’s Perspective on Edith Wharton
I am writing a critical analysis paper on the works of Edith Wharton. I have been searching for sources or examples that I might look over for a beginner’s perspective. Are there any sites that I can go to for assistance. My paper is due in May. I have to write 5-7 pages on her and would really appreciate any help that I can get.Ms. Martin
|The best work on Edith Wharton is available in books and journals. For a beginner’s perspective, you might start with a biography or one of the works from the recommended works page.A good way to see what you might like to delve into further would be to read Sarah Bird Wright’s Edith Wharton: A to Z. It is an encyclopedia of material on Wharton, and each essay includes a short bibliography on the topic.
Also, Katherine Joslin’s book Edith Wharton, in the Macmillan Women Writers series, would give you a good overview of what the issues are in Wharton criticism.
Good luck with your project.
|Lily Bart’s Death in The House of Mirth
I am a student in the UK currently undertaking an
essay on the significance of Lily Bart’s death in
The House of Mirth. If anyone out there has any useful
web site addresses or has some information they can
e-mail me, please do not hesitate to do so. I would
be most grateful. Thank youAlison Eley
|See the FAQ at this site for some answers to this question.|
|Edith Wharton’s Nervous Breakdown
I’m writing a paper about Edith Wharton and her writing, relating to her nervous breakdown in 1894 and 1895. Most information about the breakdown is vague and so my research is not quite complete. If anyone could help me with anything concerning my topic, I would greatly appreciate it. You can post a message or e-mail me at my aol screen name. Thanks, CheshireItalolevi@aol.com
|Roman Fever and Wharton’s Life
I have to do a research project on “Roman Fever” by finding hidden details and meanings about Edith Wharton, her life, and her intentions for the story. I was thinking of focusing on her animosity towards New York city and the culture behind it. Does anyone have any ideas for me on where I could get
Hello, I have a question concerning the ending of the ghost story “Pomegranate Seed”. I couldn’t`t quite get the meaning of that tale since everything seemed to be very ambiguous and indefinite.
I know that this story belongs to the genre of the fantastic and that, therefore Edith Wharton didn`t want to give any explicit explanation for the happenings. Yet, I am wondering what she wanted to imply by that story. Does it rather depict the mother-daughter relationship or does it make hints to Edith Wharton`s relationship to her father?
I would be very grateful if anybody could give me some ideas what to make up of that story.
Thank you in advance! Thomas Münze
|For some general references, see the Student Queries 2000 page at this site.|
|Sexuality in Wharton’s Writinghow is sexuality expressed or viewed in Wharton’s writing
|Patriarchy in The House of Mirth
i am currently writing an essay on representations of patriarchy in Edith Wharton’s ‘The House Of Mirth.’ if anyone knows any web sites it would be really
appreciated. thanks zoe
|Lesbian Lover in “The Mission of Jane”NAME: mandy tucker
QUESTION: this may seem strange, or perhaps I was up wayyyy too late doing my new critical approach(which is hard with wharton) but in reading ” The Mission of Jane” I found that Jane may have beem a metaphor for a lesbian lover of Mrs. Lethbury-and Mr. Lethbury may have been gay-considering the passage about him being faithful by not making love to other “women” and his “perceptions” and additionally him finding comfort in dark places with fine proportions (dimly lit hotel rooms?) well..I can’t find available criticism on that piece, and I may be far-fetched-help?? I also took into consideration that Mr. Lethbury said that the other guests in his “perception of right & wrong” would have angered Mrs. L and that the diet would not interest her-consider as well the “howl” of the woman-(baby) oh well..just looking for some input-thanks Mandy
|Immigrants in Age of InnocenceNAME: Sarah Bennett
QUESTION: I’m studying the immigrant’s view of American life in Wharton’s the Age of Innocence. How the immigrant offers the only true view of America. I’m using the ways Ellen Olenska exposes their society for what it really is and am looking for any sources in this area or generally any of Wharton’s views on
|Literary Criticism on “The Eyes”
NAME: stacie MottEMAILADDRESS: firstname.lastname@example.org
QUESTION: I am seeking literary criticism information on Edith Wharton’s “The Eyes.” I’ve been having a great deal of trouble locating any information. I
|Literary Criticism on “The Fulness of Life”
NAME: CeciliaQUESTION: Hi! I have to do an essay about Wharton’s short story “The Fulness of Life”… I like the story very much, but I haven’t been able to find any secondary material about it on the internet. The problem is that we HAVE TO use secondary sources as well. Can anyone help me, please?!
|Basic information on “Roman Fever”
NAME: SueEMAILADDRESS: email@example.com
QUESTION: ON ROMAN FEVER I need to understand the
|Summer and Ethan Frome: Similarities?NAME: Julia
QUESTION: Hello, I have to write a research paper on Edith Wharton and I’m trying to think of symbols and similarities between her two novels, Ethan Frome and Summer, but especially Summer. I can’t find anything on that book! If anyone could offer some ideas, I would appreciate it soo much! Thanks!
|House of Mirth: Lily’s Death
NAME: Sarah StumphEMAILADDRESS: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the significance of Lily’s self-siecing [? ceasing] ? And Selden’s in ability to “read” Lily throughout the novel?
|Edith Wharton and Rossetti
NAME: Jennifer GeorgeEMAILADDRESS: email@example.com
QUESTION: Hello–I’m an undergrad doing a research paper on EW’s The Buccaneers. I’m wondering if Wharton ever wrote any criticism on D.G.
|Edith Wharton and Newport Mansions
NAME: DianaEMAILADDRESS: firstname.lastname@example.org
QUESTION: I am doing a research paper on the great mansions of Newport and Long Island’s Gold Coast for the time period 1870-1929. I know Wharton wrote and described many mansions of this period. Where can I get some information on such mansions and Wharton’s use of them?
So far as I know Wharton did not “write and describe” the Newport mansions. Some of her fiction has Newport scenes (for example, The Age of Innocence and her short story “The Twilight of the God”). She discusses good house design in The Decoration of Houses, but she deplored the ostentatious
scale and ornamentation of many Gilded Age homes, not just those in Newport.
You might read A Backward Glance, her autobiography, which has some sections
about Newport. Good luck with your research and writing.
Sarah Bird Wright
|Compare and Contrast: “Roman Fever”
NAME: J.C.HartleroadEMAILADDRESS: email@example.com
QUESTION: I need to do an essay on “ROMAN FEVER” and I am having trouble finding the contrast and comparison features of the stories.Can someone please help me out?
|Compare and Contrast: Lily Bart and Countess Olenska
hi. i am doing a paper comparing Lily Bart from The House of Mirth and
Countess Olenska from The Age of Innocence. My purpose is to show how
their culture suppressed them and fated them to never be happy. Can you give me
any ideas on where to start?
|Compare and Contrast: House of Mirth and Winesburg, OhioNAME: Rosa Dorado
QUESTION: I am trying to find items that relate “The House of Mirth” and
I was curious about the lack of information on Beatrice Palmato. I
cannot find scholarly information pertaining to this particular work, and I was
hoping to receive some enlightenment into this.Kathryn Vander Vegte
|Dear Kathryn-I’ve been “presenting” “House of Mirth” to a wonderful breakfast/book club in St. Paul. We have a well read and highly informed group, but I feel some were put off by my criticism of the quality of the above mentioned book. After reading more about Wharton and her work on the Internet, I came across the subject of her story “Beatrice Palmato” (never completed) re: incest.
Seeing that, I felt that I could better explain why the character of Lily in “House of Mirth” was not a credible fictional character. When I read the book, I didn’t understand why “Lily” seemed so artificial, so unreal. I did feel that Wharton was very angry and displayed a great need to “communicate” (like all writers) to her public, but what was she trying to communicate? Now I believe that Wharton was a victim of sexual abuse as a child, and needed to “get it off her chest”. Her book was more of an outburst (albeit a brilliant one), a diatribe against not simply her “class,” but against those around her-and that included EVERYONE-who hadn’t protected, understood and loved her in her childhood.
I am not a student of Wharton, although I fully intend to read and reread her work, and needless to say, read her autobiography. I’m a former English teacher (have a masters in theatrical criticism and a law degree) but I’m no expert on the work of Wharton. I am a lover of “mysteries,” however, and I honestly believe that the key to understanding her work (and her TRIUMPH) is to recognize that an early debilitating experience, which holds the “key” to understanding her work, could have-but thank heaven didn’t-destroy her.
I would like very much to hear from you because I see that you have noticed the dearth of information re: “Beatrice Palmato” also.
Any comments you have I look forward to receiving.
Louise A. Klas
Here are a few articles that deal either with Wharton and incest or “Beatrice Palmato”:
Lauer, Kristin O. “Is This Indeed ‘Attractive’? Another Look at the ‘Beatrice Palmato’ Fragment.” Edith Wharton Review 11.1 (1994): 26-29.
White and also Helen Killoran (Edith Wharton: Art and Allusion) have discussed the possibility of sexual abuse; also, Cynthia Griffin Wolff discusses the fragment in A Feast of Words. –D. Campbell
|Edith Wharton and Italian Art prior to Valley of Decision
I’m writing a college paper on Edith Wharton’s links with Italian art and culture, as developed in her first works prior to “The Valley of Decision”.
In a Wharton bibliography I found that she translated three short stories by Italian authors, but the only clue it gives about the location of the book is MB. I figure it’s supposed to indicate a college library, but I can’t make out which one. Would You happen to know which library it refers to? I’ve already got tons of material, but this would definitely gain me a “+”. The title of the book is “Foreign Authors” ( or, alternatively, “Stories by Foreign Authors” ) and it was edited in 1898 by Scribner’s
Thank You so much for Your attention to my query and Your help.
Sincerely, Elisabetta Mezzani firstname.lastname@example.org
|The stories are available online at the following address:
Here are the titles and authors of the translated stories:
“COLLEGE FRIENDS” BY EDMONDO DE AMICIS
|Criticism on The Mother’s Recompense
I am a college student from Indonesia. I write a thesis from EW”s The Mother’s Recompense but I have some difficulty to find some books that related to that novel. Is there any possibility for me to read books that discuss about The Mother’s Recompense. jusak <mailto:email@example.com> 8/27/01
|You can find a short bibliography on this site at recompensebib.html|
|Edith Wharton and WyndcliffeIt is my understanding that Edith Wharton had a home in Rhinebeck, New York, called, Wincliff. I am wondering why it is not mentioned in her biography. When was she in residence? What was written while she was there? Was she a child? Was she unhappy there? Did a major event happen in her life there? Thank you for your help.
Anne Maletta, Mal7669@aol.com
|You can find some information and links on the FAQ page and also on one of thequeries pages.|
|Edith Wharton and Failed RelationshipsI am writing (or trying to write) an essay for a Senior Seminar on Edith
Wharton. I am looking for research that explores love and marriage
depicted in her fiction. More specifically, a reciprocal love that
involves both an intellectual and physical connection is never given a
future in Wharton’s work. I am looking for suggestions as to why these
relationships are always doomed. Thank you.
|Custom of the Country Links or BooksQUESTION: I am an isolated british student living in France, having to redo my teaching diploma (very academic compared to the UK), and my major problem is a
lack of access to a decent library, as I am doing the course by correspondence.
The Custom of the Country is one of the three books they have chosen to study,
and I would really like to know if anybody has any useful links or books that
do not cost a fortune that they could recommend, as I am on a limited budget. Most of their questions seem to centre on the undulating character of Undine Spragg and Edith Wharton’s fascination with France and the French (their undoubted reason for choosing this book!). I know that this is the usual pathetic student request, but English resources here are pitiful (and I’m 34 not 18, I’ve already done all of this once over!) If anyone maybe who is here in France would like to contact me,or anyone at all, I’d be only too
happy!!!!Thanks Claire Cozler, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Edith Wharton as a Realist Novelist I would appreciate it very much if you could answer my following
-Can one consider Edith Wharton a realist novelist? If so, what was her contribution to the edification of the American realistic novel?
|Wharton and Religious BackgroundQUESTION: I am looking for information on any early religious training or church experience that Edith Wharton had. Any information is appreciated. Tracy 11/26/01|
|Custom of the Country
QUESTION: For a specific work, I am looking for most information about E.
Wharton, the custom of the country (critics on it, Mary Edmonds customs,
costumes and customers .) Thank you for sending these materials to me . Ollagnier christine, Ollagn_f@club-internet.fr
|We can’t send materials to individuals, but your question will be posted to wharton-l, where members may send references to you if they have them available.
Christine,I don’t know whether anyone else has noticed this, but the phrase “custom of the country” appears in the English translation of Guy de Maupassant’s short story, “The Baptism.” In the story, slavish adherence to the custom of the country (baptism) results in the senseless death of a newborn baby. I was researching possible literary inspiration for Julius Stewart’s painting, The Baptism, when I discovered this possible inspiration for Wharton’s book title.
NAME: Bethany ReedEMAILADDRESS: email@example.com
QUESTION: i’m doing a critical essay in my english literature class over edith wharton’s works. i need to find a good thesis to prove about her works and i need some help!! please!!
(Note: Since this general message is representative of many of the kinds of questions received at the site, future questions of this nature will NOT be answered individually. Please consult the answer at right for assistance.)
|The best way to find a good thesis is to sit down and think about the works that you have read–really think about them. Here are some suggestions:
1. If you have been asked to compare characters, take a piece of paper and draw a line down the center lengthwise. Put the name of each character at the top of a column. What do you know about each character? Write as quickly as you can, going back to the text for more ideas. After you’ve written down the obvious points, go back and look for the less obvious ones. Do the same thing for the other character. What similarities and differences do you see? What points keep coming up?
2. If you have to write an essay with a thesis about some aspect of Wharton’s works, consider these possibilities:
|NAME: Mizael Gardu=F1oEMAILADDRESS: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a student in a translation English/Spanish program in Mexico, and now I have some problems in translating some expressions in “The Pelican” (1898). The phrases are “Real teeth and hair” and “cut the knot”.
I appreciate any explanation I could receive about these two expressions.
|Here is the passage from “The Pelican”: “After the lecture was over it happened that I walked home with Mrs. Amyot. Judging from the incensed glances of two or three learned gentlemen who were hovering on the door-step when we emerged, I inferred that Mrs. Amyot, at that period, did not often walk home alone; but I doubt whether any of my discomfited rivals, whatever his claims to favor, was ever treated to so ravishing a mixture of shyness and self-abandonment, of sham erudition and real teeth and hair, as it was my privilege to enjoy. Even at the incipience of her public career Mrs. Amyot had a tender eye for strangers, as possible links with successive centres of culture to
which in due course the torch of Greek art might be handed on.”"Real teeth and hair” in this context means that whatever other deficiencies Mrs. Amyot had (of erudition, for example,) she at least does not have false teeth or false hair (like a wig). Wharton contrasts the two (false and real) to show the real source of Mrs. Amyot’s power, her femininity.
Here is the other passage: “But if Lancelot was not genuine, his mother’s love for him was. It justified everything — the lectures were for the baby, after all. I had not been ten minutes in the room before I was pledged to help Mrs. Amyot to carry out her triumphant fraud. If she wanted to lecture on Plato she should — Plato must take his chance like the rest of us! There was no use, of course, in being “discriminating.” I preserved sufficient reason to avoid that pitfall, but I suggested “subjects” and made lists of books for her with a fatuity that became more obvious as time attenuated the remembrance of her smile; I even remember thinking that some men might have cut the knot by marrying her, but I handed over Plato as a hostage, and escaped by the afternoon train.”
“Cut the knot” means “solve the problem.” It derives from the old story about Alexander the Great, who solved the problem of untying the Gordian knot by slicing it in half with his sword.
|Dear Edith Wharton Society,
I have recently read Souls Belated by Edith Wharton and have started to write a paper on her styles of writing, in this story. I have already read it over three times and still fail to find all the necessary things to write a paper. If you could help me I would greatly appreciate it, I am looking for: Characters, Plot,
Setting, Theme, Symbols, Narrator, etc. Thank you for your time
|The questions given for the first answer should help you in writing your paper.|
|Ethan Frome and Frame StoryNAME: moulin
I’m a french student I’d like to know few things about Edith Wharton
|Wharton’s ImportanceMy name is Kelsey Wohlman and I attend a private preparatory school in
Jakarta Indonesia, JIS. Right now I am doing an independent novel study on
the Age of Innocence and must do and oral report on the author, Edith
Wharton. I was wondering of you could please help me address the question of
why should books written by Edith Wharton be placed on the curriculum. I was
thinking somewhere along the lines of her books being such accurate
descriptions of an era and age past…. Also, how the society and time
period in which she lived influenced her writing. That one is pretty self
explanatory, and I could manage. However, any help that you could offer
would be beneficial.
|Title of Custom of the CountryNAME: Kelly, email@example.com
Hi, I have just finished reading Edith Wharton’s, The Custom of the
Country. I am new to novels like these and have found it very difficult to
read. I have a paper to write on the appropriateness of the novel’s title and I
would really like some help with that!
|You may want to consult some of the sources in the online bibliography on The Custom of the Country, especially the essays by Adeline Tintner and others who discuss the title. Usually people speak of “the custom of the country” as meaning the manners, customs, habits, and moral traditions of a land, often in the context of doing something that one might otherwise not do (or something one disapproves of) or observing a custom that is strange from the perspective of one’s own land. You might also want to look at the play The Custom of the Country (circa 1619) by John Fletcher and Philip Massinger, for this is also a source for Wharton’s title.|
|Puritanism in Ethan Frome
QUESTION: I’m doing a Research Paper on Puritanism in Ethan Frome and was wondering if anyone knew any similarites between the life of a Puritan
individual and the characters in the novel Ethan Frome… If any beliefs of the
Puritans are illustrated in the novel. AMBS, LMspoiledBRAT12@aol.com
|Summaries of Wharton StoriesQUESTION: I’m doing a critical analysis on the stories “The Muse’s Tragedy” and “The Pelican,” and am having a hard time understand and relating the two. I have searched everywhere on the internet for summaries of the stories, but have had no luck. Any advice? Emily, Loner994@yahoo.com|
|“The Valley of Childish Things”
> I’m looking for background information on the short story: The valley of
> childish things. It was published in Century Magazine 52 (1896) p467 -
> valley of childish things and other emblems”. Can you help me? I didn’t
> anything about it at your site. Thanks a lot in advance.
> Gabriela Henschke
> (student at University of Stuttgart)
> GMX – Die Kommunikationsplattform im Internet.
|[some material omitted]
For my part, the best advice I can give you to get started is1) Check the MLA bibliography online to see what articles have been
published on the story since 1984.
2) Look in the indexes to the main books of Wharton criticism (list at the
|Bibliography on “Roman Fever”
I have a class which is english class.
We learned “roman fever” written by Edith Warther.
I need to make my paper about it.
Do you have sources of roman fever?
Let me know please
|You can find a bibliography by searching this site; the question and answer appear on the Student Queries 2000 page, and there is a bibliography on that page.|
Dear Edith Wharton Society,
I have recently read Souls Belated by Edith Wharton and have started to write a paper on her styles of writing, in this story. I have already
read it over three times and still fail to find all the necessary things to write a paper. If you could help me I would greatly appreciate it, I am
looking for: Characters, Plot, Setting, Theme, Symbols, Narrator, etc. Thank you for your time.
|The questions in the “General Help” section of this page should help you get started with this question. At some future date, we will be working on putting more information about the short stories on this site.|
QUESTION: 1. Account for the irony that readers can experience in Roman Fever. 2. After years being married to a successful lawyer, Did Mrs Slade really found the true happiness and peace in mind?– Anh Ng, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Fashion and Dress in The House of Mirth
QUESTION: I need information, articles and references for my essay on “the Significance of Fashion and Dress in House of Mirth”. I am finding very little info on it. Karen Hamlin, email@example.com
|Literary Criticism on Ethan Frome
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Tessa and I am in the tenth grade. I need a number of literary criticisms on “Ethan Frome” by Edith Wharton. Any help would be really helpful for my presentation that is due, like, real soon!!!! Thanks.Tessa Dimsdale, firstname.lastname@example.org
|You can find some suggestions for finding sources if you look in the Student Queries pages for previous years and also the FAQ pages. As noted above and on other pages, we can’t send you critical articles about your topic; you need to look them up in your library.|
|Edith Wharton in FranceI’m a french student and I’m reading this book for my literature class. = I’d like to find information on the book and also on E.Wharton life = while she lived in France, if you could help me, web site, books… Thanks. virginie||You can find good information on Wharton’s life in the biographies written about her life; a short biographical sketch is available at http://www.gonzaga.edu/wharton/bio.htmInformation about where Wharton lived in France is available on the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page.|
|Edith Wharton as a Realist Novelist I would appreciate it if you could answer the following queries.
-Can we consider Edith Wharton a realist novelist? If so what was her contribution to the edification of the American realistic novel?
-What themes did come out more frequently in her works?
M.Barkaoui, University of Annaba, Algeria.
|Portrait of a Lady and The House of Mirth I’m doing a project for a Realism and Naturalism class on comparing James’ “Portrait of a Lady” to Wharton’s
“Age of Innocence.” I need some information on where the comparisons/references are and what they are.
This information would be appreciated.
|You should be able find some relevant articles in the Edith Wharton and Henry James bibliography at http://www.editwhartonsociety.org/whartonjames.html, starting with Millicent Bell’s Edith Wharton and Henry James: The Story of Their Friendship.|
|Edith Wharton and CitiesI was looking into your great site about Edith Warthon society and I wanted to ask a quick question.
I was wondering how I can find some information on Edith Warthon’s life in major cities(NY, major European cities) and how it influenced her work.
Thanks for your time.
|You can find good information on Wharton’s life in cities in the biographies written about her life; a short biographical sketch is available at http://www.gonzaga.edu/wharton/bio.htmInformation about cities where Wharton lived is available on the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page.|
|Ethan Frome and HappinessQUESTION: In “Ethan Frome” do you feel that the character of Ethan should be pitied, or do you think that he is just suffering from his mindset that “the grass is always greener on the other side”? Please help me with this question, thankyou.
|The House of Mirth and HousesQUESTION: I am a student and I need some informations about the subject of houses in the novel “The House of Mirth”. Could you help me suggesting critics that I can find on the web (or other sources)about this matter? Thank you very much in advance for your help. Have a nice day! Ramona
Ramona Lamberti, email@example.com
|Edith Wharton Foundation on the French Riviera?QUESTION: I have heard a rumor of an Edith Wharton foundation on the French Riviera. Can anyone provide me with information about this foundation if it indeed exists? Thanks for your assistance.
Leslie Shimotakahara, firstname.lastname@example.org
|This may be a reference to her house there, a chateau in Hyeres on the Riviera (Ste. Claire du Vieux Chateau).|
|QUESTION: HELP ME!!!! I have been looking all over the entire web for Reviews and Criticisms of Edith Wharton’s “The Fulness of Life” and I can’t find anything! I have a paper due on monday and ANY INFORMATION AT ALL WOULD BE WONDERFUL….PLEASE HELP!Blair Atwood||You will find several suggestions about finding online criticism and other types of sources on Wharton on our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page.|
|Epigraph to The House of MirthQUESTION: Why did Wharton decline her publisher’s request to put this epigraph from Ecclelesiastes 7:4 on the title page: “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth?”
|Wharton wrote about this in a letter to her editor, William Crary Brownell (Letters 94).|
|Winter Setting in Ethan FromeQUESTION: Do you know what does the winter setting symbolizes in Ethan Frome? Why do you think so? Do you know what does the sled symbolizes in Ethan Frome and why do you think so?
|Many critics have commented on the winter setting in Ethan Frome. What is your opinion? Why might a white, frozen landscape in which all life is dead or dormant be especially appropriate to an understanding of Ethan’s life? You might want to look first at any of the recommended books, especially Marlene Springer’s Ethan Frome: A Nightmare of Need or the Norton Critical Edition of the novel.|
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