Name: Robin Siegerman
Where would you like this to appear? : New Books
Comment: I am an audiobook narrator and I have just completed a new recorded audiobook version of Wharton’s lesser known work, A Son at the Front, about being an American expatriate parent in Paris, of a son conscripted into the French army at the start of WWI.
The audiobook and e-book both contain an essay by Peter Buitenhuis, “Edith Wharton and the First World War” as an Afterword. His essay sheds interesting background light on Wharton’s prodigious war time charity work and provides context for her writing.
“What an incalculable sum of gifts and virtues went to make up the monster’s daily meal.” So observes American expatriate painter John Campton, whose only son is conscripted to military service in France at the beginning of WWI. In Edith Wharton’s saga, A Son at the Front, we share the character’s anguish as thousands of young men are sacrificed to the insatiable appetite of the war. The lessons are as relevant today as they were almost 100 years ago.
Available on Audible, Amazon, iTunes.
Westfield Historical Society Talk set on ‘The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe’
As part of the Westfield Historical Society’s First Wednesday Luncheon series, Dr. Carole Shaffer-Koros, will talk about the many theories surrounding the Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe on Oct. 2.
The event will begin with check-in at 11:45 a.m. at the Echo Lake Country Club, located at 515 Springfield Avenue, Westfield. Edgar Allan Poe is well known today for his Gothic horror stories as well as his poem “The Raven.”
From The New Yorker:
The first time I read Edith Wharton’s novel “The Custom of the Country,” which was published in 1913, I felt at once that I had always known its protagonist and also that I had never before met anyone like her. The values of Undine Spragg—who, in the course of the novel, makes a circuitous and sinister journey from Midwestern rube to ruby-drenched new-money empress—are repulsive, and her attempts to manipulate public attention are mesmerizing. For my money, no literary antiheroine can best Undine—a dazzling monster with rose-gold hair, creamy skin, and a gaping spiritual maw that could swallow New York City. People like her have been abundant in American culture for some time, but I never feel invested in their success; more often, I idly hope for their failure. With Undine, however—thanks to the alchemical mix of sympathy and disdain that animates Wharton’s language in the novel and allows her to match Undine’s savagery with plenty of her own—I find myself wanting her to get everything she desires.
The Edith Wharton Society is pleased to announce the recipients of this year’s scholarly awards. We also wish to thank two evaluation teams, the first of which was composed of Jennifer Haytock (chair), Rita Bode, and Paul Ohler, who read the undergraduate essay submissions, which were assessed through a blind review process. The submissions for the Archival Research Award and Elsa Nettels Award for a Beginning Scholar (also a blind review process) were read by a team that consisted of Myrto Drizou (chair), Katie Ahern, and Sheila Liming. Many thanks to these thoughtful readers and to all who support the awards. A hearty congratulations to all recipients!
The Archival Research Award
Rachel Walerstein, University of Iowa, for research relating to her dissertation,Masculine Gestures: Imitation and Initiation in American Modernism.
The Elsa Nettles Award for a Beginning Scholar
Hannah Champion, Université Bordeaux Montaigne, for “’Hold me, Gerty, hold me’: The ‘Lesbianism’ of Lily Bart.”
Undergraduate Essay Award (co-winners)
Samuel McIntyre, William & Mary, for “Charity Case: The Gendered Economy of Gift-Giving in Summer.”
Katie Williams, William & Mary, for “Object or Owner: Navigating Identity through the Aesthetic in Wharton’s Fiction.”
Stephanie Palmer, Transatlantic Footholds: Turn-of-the-Century American Women Writers and British Reviewers (Routledge, 2019).
Transatlantic Footholds: Turn-of-the-Century American Women Writers and British Reviewers analyses British reviews of American women fiction writers, essayists and poets between the periods of literary domesticity and modernism. The book demonstrates that a variety of American women writers were intelligently read in Britain during this era. British reviewers read American women as literary artists, as women and as Americans. While their notion of who counted as “women” was too limited by race and class, they eagerly read these writers for insight about how women around the world were entering debates on women’s place, the class struggle, religion, Indian policy, childrearing, and high society. In the process, by reading American women in varied ways, reviewers became hybrid and dissenting readers. The taste among British reviewers for American women’s books helped change the predominant direction that high culture flowed across the Atlantic from east-to-west to west-to-east. Britons working in London or far afield were deeply invested in the idea of “America.” “America,” their responses prove, is a transnational construct.
Publisher website: https://www.routledge.com/Transatlantic-Footholds-Turn-of-the-Century-American-Women-Writers-and/Palmer/p/book/9780367204297
From First Things, https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2019/07/what-she-asks-she-obtains
Though Adams was anxious about the reckless acceleration of history, his friend Edith Wharton mashed her foot down on the accelerator in her Motor Flight Through France. Dogmatically confident in her own taste, she shunned the popular artworks starred in guide books. She stopped in Rouen and stumbled upon Gerhard David’s Virgin Among The Virgins. She named it “The Virgin of the Grapes” for the “heavenly translucence of that bunch of grapes plucked from the vine of Paradise” held by the Infant Jesus on the Virgin’s lap. “It is part of its very charm to leave unsettled, to keep among the mysteries whereby it draws one back,” she wrote. Wharton drove on to the next town, but the Virgin stayed with her. Father John LaFarge, S.J., remembers being quietly interrogated about his religious beliefs by Wharton “as if she were looking for something desperately needed, but only vaguely knowing her own needs.”