Maureen Montgomery on The Buccaneers and English Country Houses, November 5.

From Maureen Montgomery:
I’m doing a webinar for the Newport Preservation Society on 5 November at 5.30 pm ET on The Buccaneers and English country houses.  It is for a general audience but perhaps some of our colleagues in the EW Society might like to join the webinar.
Here is the link to the NPS website with the relevant information about the talk and how to register.  It is free.  I did check with the NPS that I could advertise it to Whartonites.
https://www.newportmansions.org/learn/adult-program

Ngā Mihi

Maureen

Dr. Laura Rattray Book Launch, October 28

If you’re free on Wed 28 Oct (5pm UK time), I hope you’ll be able to join us in conversation “at” the Rothermere American Institute, Oxford. 

Details and registration below:https://www.rai.ox.ac.uk/event/book-launch-edith-wharton-and-genre

All best- Laura

Dr. Laura RattrayReader in American LiteratureSchool of Critical StudiesUniversity of Glasgow4 University GardensGlasgow G12 8QQ

Queries: Did Edith Wharton Read James Joyce?

An unpublished Edith Wharton story, “The Children’s Hour,” recently appeared in The Times Literary Supplement (#6129:18 Sep 2020). The writing employs her humane and bitingly humorous skills equally, and it’s a triumph of a story. A sense of the story’s being incomplete struck me at first, but a rereading reveals it to be all there, and veering toward the postmodern. Another aspect is a vivid Joycean tone in dealing with the Catholic subject matter, and one could argue that the story is derivative of (or inspired by) The Dubliners.

This led me to wonder about whether Wharton, who did read Joyce, had written any diary entries or essays about him, and indeed if she knew Joyce or ever corresponded with him.

CFP: The Nonhuman in American Literary Naturalism

 

Call for proposals

 The Nonhuman in American Literary Naturalism

Editors: Kenneth K Brandt and Karin M Danielsson

At the end of the 19th century, American authors such as Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, Theodore Dreiser, and Jack London were influenced by new advances in science—notably the idea of evolution. Nature and the nonhuman were crucial for these writers,
whom scholars   most often group under the rubric of American literary naturalists. Traditional scholarship on American literary naturalism has closely attended to various environmental pressures in urban and wilderness settings, but scholars have paid much
less attention to the naturalists’ investigations into the nonhuman, such as animals, plants, landscapes, houses, or weather. To extend and deepen our understanding of this under-researched field, we propose a volume of essays that offers a wide variety of
innovative critical approaches to the nonhuman in American naturalist literature. We welcome studies based in ecocriticism, animal studies, new materialism, narrative theory, or ethics. We are receptive to essay proposals focused on the core naturalists from
around 1900 as well as more contemporary writers in the naturalist tradition. Proposals may focus on authors including Crane, Norris, London, Wharton, Garland, Dreiser, Chopin, Dunbar, Sinclair, Twain, Glasgow, Frederic, Cather, O’Neill, Steinbeck, Wright,
Hemingway, Petry, Dos Passos, Larsen, Farrell, Hammett, Cain and others. More recent writers may include Oates, Vonnegut, DeLillo, Morrison, McCarthy, Wilson, Pynchon, and others.

Possible topic areas might include but are not limited to:

  • Animal agency  
  • Anthropomorphism
  • Nonhuman sentience
  • Ecology
  • Ethology 
  • Evolution
  • Farming
  • Forests, trees, plants
  • Houses and other structures
  • Human–nonhuman intersubjectivity
  • Landscape and place
  • Physical or environmental transformations
  • Posthumanism 
  • Speciesism 
  • Technology’s intersections with the nonhuman
  • Weather and climate
  • Wild, feral, and domestic nonhumans

 

The Lexington Books Ecocritical Theory and Practice series editor has expressed a strong interest in the project and has requested a full proposal. It is the publisher’s wish that authors or at least one co-author holds a PhD.

We invite essay proposals of a maximum of 500 words on any topic relating to the nonhuman in American literary naturalism by the deadline of the
8 January 2021. Please include a title, a maximum of five key words, and a brief biography. We aim to reply to respondents by 25 February 2021, and full drafts of essays (5000–8000 words)
will be due 1 September 2021. Please send a 500-word maximum proposal and a brief biography to karin.molander.danielsson@mdh.se and
kbrandt@scad.edu by 8 January, 2021.

Queries: Did Undine Spragg know Shakespeare?

Hi, Wharton is wonderful! Having years ago read Ethan Frome, and more recently The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth, I now find myself enthralled with The Custom of the Country, bringing me to my question. Undine’s early thoughts on Peter Van Degen lead to her conclusion that all the offerings of life “seem stale and unprofitable outside the magic ring of the Society Column.” Is it reasonable to assume Wharton knew her Shakespeare well enough to intentionally and selectively leave the other two adjectives, “weary” and “flat”, out of Hamlet’s soliloquy, or is her “stale and unprofitable” mere coincidence? (As there is no evidence that even The Hound of the Baskervilles was actually Undine’s, I have a hard time imagining The Bard on her reading list.) Many thanks in advance for any thoughts you might have.

Sincerely, Dr. Bruce Barlam

Wharton in the News: The Age of Innocence: How a US classic defined its era

“The Age of Innocence: How a US classic defined its era” by Cameron Laux

In the first of BBC Culture’s series The American Century, Cameron Laux looks at how The Age of Innocence – published 100 years ago – marked a pivotal moment in US history.A

A funny story. Edith Wharton was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Age of Innocence in 1921 (it was published in 1920), but the jury had originally chosen to award it to Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street. The trustees, the actual powers-that-be within the organisation, to whom it falls to make the final decision based on the advice of the jury, balked at the choice because they thought Main Street was unwholesome. Back then, the prize was to be awarded to a novel “which shall best present the wholesome atmosphere of American life”, and Main Street, a trenchant satire on narrow-mindedness in a small midwestern town, ruffled some self-important feathers. In the book, a married man perhaps has an affair with a neighbour, while his wife contemplates an affair with a younger man, but does nothing about it – these are the only morally racy bits I can come up with. No, the problem was actually political: then, as now, the rural Midwest was considered to be the sacred beating heart of America (Mom and apple pie and all that), and it wouldn’t do to question that myth.

Some of this belief that literature should mind its manners survives to this day. For example, Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo, universally acclaimed as masters of the 20th-Century US novel, and both of whom mercilessly target the American dream, have been passed over for Pulitzers. When the 1974 jury unanimously recommended Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (probably among the most important novels ever written), the trustees chose to give no award rather than to give it to him.

If Scorsese takes an interest in something, it must have become part of America’s DNA

But back to Lewis. Another of his books was then awarded the Pulitzer in 1926; supremely annoyed by his first go-around with them, he gave the award back. Then in 1930 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature – surely, one might think, establishing him as a global force in writing. Yet how many people today have even heard of Sinclair Lewis, let alone read one of his books? He has, for the most part, been swallowed by time (as have many of the Pulitzer laureates from that era: Ernest Poole, Margaret Wilson, Edna Ferber, Louis Bromfield, Julia Peterkin…), while Wharton flourishes. She has left him in her dust. In recent decades, two cinematic auteurs have even adapted her books into films stuffed with bankable stars: Martin Scorsese with The Age of Innocence (1993) and Terence Davies with The House of Mirth (2000). If Scorsese takes an interest in something, it must have become part of America’s DNA.

Thanks to EWS member John Tamburello for the link.

(read more here: https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20200922-the-age-of-innocence-how-a-classic-defined-its-era)

New Books: L’Amérique au tournant: La place des États-Unis dans la littérature française (1890-1920)

L’Amérique au tournantLa place des États-Unis dans la littérature française (1890-1920)

Includes this article by Virginia Ricard:

Edith Wharton au tournant

  • Abstract: En 1907, la traduction en français du premier grand roman d’Edith Wharton, Chez les heureux du monde, donne l’impression qu’elle est acquise à l’antiaméricanisme, puisque, en présentant des personnages riches, brutaux et insensibles, elle contribue à diffuser une image négative des États-Unis en France. Après août 1914, elle parle même d’un « retard » des Américains. Mais l’entrée en guerre des États-Unis conduit Wharton à regarder d’un autre œil la contribution de l’Amérique à l’histoire humaine.
  • Pages: 145 to 156
  • Collection: Encounters, n° 456

Edith Wharton in the News: Edith Wharton’s Home-Building by Sophie Haigney

From Maureen Montgomery:

Makeshift Refuges: Edith Wharton’s Home-Building

By Sophie Haigney

AUGUST 24, 2020

AT FIRST, THE VISIT was like a fairy tale. In Edith Wharton’s 1912 novel The Reef, George Darrow comes to visit Anna Leath at Givré, the French chateau she inherited from her now-dead first husband. After delays and misunderstandings, the couple finally agrees to an engagement, and Givré seems like the romantic backdrop for their love. For Anna in particular it has taken on a renewed beauty with Darrow’s arrival; she sheds her impression that it is “a dull house, an inconvenient house, of which one knew all the defects, the shabbinesses, the discomforts.” On a drive through the countryside, they even discover a kind of mythical abandoned house:

[T]hey stopped the motor before a ruined gateway, and stumbling along a road full of ruts, stood before a little old deserted house, fantastically carved and chimneyed, which lay in the moat under the shade of ancient trees. They paced the paths between the trees, found a mouldy Temple of Love on an islet among reeds and plantains and, sitting on a bench in the stable-yard, watched the pigeons circling against the sunset over their cot of patterned brick.

Darrow returns to this crumbling, decaying, deserted house in his mind at the end of the day. He and Anna remain separated in the evening, both spatially and conventionally; they have not yet even announced their engagement, and Givré is populated by a cast of entangled characters, including Anna’s first husband’s mother, her daughter, her stepson, a governess, and servants. The deserted house, in a way, is the antithesis of Givré: a space known only to the couple, romantic in its desertion, the cottage complement to the fairy-tale castle. In an early draft of The Reef, Wharton even dubbed it “The Sleeping Beauty house.”

Read the rest at https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/makeshift-refuges-edith-whartons-home-building/

New Translation of “Les Marocaines chez elles” part 1, by Edith Wharton

Screen Shot 2020-08-21 at 9.54.41 AMFrom “Les Marocaines chez elles,” by Edith Wharton, translated by Nandan Kulkarni

I try, while exchanging compliments through our interpreter, to note down the details of their dresses. But how shall I describe the complex jumble of the gauze thrown on the heavy brocades? The lovely movements made with thick silk ribbons in large gold loops which are slipped under their underarms and lift their heavy sleeves? The fullness of the beautiful fabric, with folds like those in a Veronese painting, high above the large rigid belts? And, above all, the incredible complexity of their hair? Their black hair, curled and shaved at the bulge of the forehead, makes only a black line below the gold diadem or cloth band that a jewel holds just above their arched brows… Braids fall over every other part of their face; over their ears, which are laden with heavy earrings, coral pendants, big gold rings with emeralds or pearls, “bijoux de juifs” (jewels of the Jews) made in the blue Mellahs (Jewish quarters) of white cities. The countless necklaces fall on the gleaming of rich caftans, above the little pink, blue, or white gauze frills in the style of Watteau. On a narrow neck of black velvet: necklaces of gold, amber, coral, eccentric combinations of amulets and rough stones crafted in the same goldsmithery in the Mellah. All this forms an ensemble of extraordinary radiance, where the pink gauze blends with the blue and gold brocade, the white gauze with old rose gauze and violet or green-apple belts. Through the group weaves in and out a little négrillon (negro boy) with the sweet little face of Zamor, whose violet silver-spangled caftan is encircled by a beautiful raspberry-pink silk scarf.

***

In the fall of 1917, at the invitation of the French government, Edith Wharton spent three weeks touring Morocco by car. “Like a burst of sunlight between storm-clouds,” this excursion in the middle of the First World War gave Wharton, with unique privileges of access granted by her hosts, the opportunity to observe and then write about what was then, to Westerners, “a country still completely untouched by foreign travel” (A Backward Glance, 358). The tour resulted in a series of articles in Scribner’s and the Yale Review, which were then, reorganized and illustrated with photographs, published in 1920 by Scribner’s as the book In Morocco. While the brevity of her trip prevented her from writing the full-scale tour guide she felt was needed, Wharton did give her book a historical preface using scarce French sources, thus bringing more information about North Africa to a popular Anglophone readership than was previously available. Wharton was also fully aware, it seems, that as much as her book would provide “vivid and picturesque” glimpses of a “curious…beautiful” country “rich in landscape and architecture,” it would also encourage and enable a “deluge” of tourism that would destroy much of what she recorded (In Morocco, ix-xi, passim).

There was one other article in which Wharton documented her trip, an account in French that appeared in La Revue des Deux Mondes in the spring of 1918: “Les Marocaines chez elles,” which includes some observations not duplicated, it appears, in any of her Anglophone publications about Morocco. The partial translation excerpted above, and fully available here, was undertaken by Johns Hopkins University rising junior Nandan Kulkarni as a final project this spring for “Scribbling Women,” an undergraduate course I teach that is cross-listed in English and the Museums & Society program. In this class, we examine the speeches, private writings, and published poetry, fiction, and journalism by a selection of North American women who draw attention in their works to race-, gender-, and class-based inequities. Students especially consider the creation, publication, reception, and legacy of our texts, which date from the 1820s through the 1930s, using rare books, archival materials, and other primary sources. The class culminates in public projects designed to provide broad and accurate access for other potential readers of these texts. With the pandemic-related transition to remote learning, we moved, like so much else this year, from hands-on examinations of materials to digital resources and digital final projects.

We read several short works of fiction by Edith Wharton, looking at their first publication in books and magazines, as well as their current availability in e-books and digital archives. Nandan was intrigued by Wharton’s writing, her long residence in Paris, and her travels, and asked to undertake a translation of one of her French language works for his final project. Wanting to give students as much latitude as possible during a difficult semester, I allowed him to do so although it was not one of our established assignment options—my own French is certainly not at the level of Wharton’s—setting the condition, however, that he would have to find a short text by Wharton originally written in French for which a translation was not already readily available. I was thinking he might translate a few of her letters to Léon Bélugou, from the collection at the Beinecke Library; but, learning that many are already translated in Edith Wharton in France, he found instead, to my surprise, “Les Marocaines chez elles” in a digitized volume of La Revue des Deux Mondes in HathiTrust. We decided that he would translate the first half of it for our class blog, with my editorial supervision. As he explains in his headnote, parts of it are similar to sections of In Morocco but some of it does not seem to have been carried over. We were not able to make a detailed comparison to the English-language essay in the Yale Review (the print collection in our library was unavailable throughout the spring due to pandemic-related closures) but it seems to differ from that version, as well. We look forward to the full translation that is forthcoming in the Travel Writings volume of The Complete Works of Edith Wharton.

—Gabrielle Dean, PhD, William Kurrelmeyer Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Johns Hopkins University

(See https://literaryarchive.net/2020/04/28/les-marocaines-chez-elles-by-edith-wharton-section-i/ for the entire translation.)