Edith Wharton Discovery in the Archives: Italian-Language Version of “The Duchess At Prayer” in Duke University’s Rubenstein Library

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 7.38.22 PMItalian-Language Version of “The Duchess At Prayer” in Duke University’s Rubenstein Library

The editors of CWEW, and Wharton scholars in general, are continuing to learn just how many drafts and manuscripts of Wharton’s work exist. Today, I discovered an Italian-language typescript of Wharton’s 1900 short story, “The Duchess at Prayer” (La Duchessa in Preghiera) in the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, a major archival collection currently undergoing processing at Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Initial review of the text indicates that it is a word-by-word translation of the story, with corrections in Wharton’s hand. The story was published in Scribners in August 1900 and then re-published in Crucial Instances (1901). The typescript is undated and no other correspondence or documents appear in the file.

Apparently, another typescript of “La Duchessa in Preghiera,” also undated, exists in Matilda Gay’s papers at the Frick. The next step would be for a reader to compare these two versions against the copy-text of “The Duchess at Prayer.”

I will be meeting with Lisa Unger Baskin, the donor of the collection, in a few weeks and am eager to learn more about the provenance of this typescript. What this suggests is that there may be many more relevant archival materials to be found as we continue our work with CWEW.

 

Meredith Goldsmith, Ursinus College

2015-2016 Duke University Humanities Writ Large Fellow

One thought on “Edith Wharton Discovery in the Archives: Italian-Language Version of “The Duchess At Prayer” in Duke University’s Rubenstein Library

  1. Carol Singley

    Dear Meredith and all,
    This IS exciting, thanks for posting. Is there evidence that Wharton herself translated the story, as well as corrected the translation? Do we know her level of proficiency in Italian? — Carol

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