Category Archives: Queries

Wharton Queries Answer about CBS Radio Mystery Theater

Mr. Slavney,

After listening to “The Beast” in its entirety, your hunch that Payton and Grams are mistaken would seem to be by substantiated by the similarities between Agate’s adaptation and Wharton’s 1908 story “The Choice” (first published in _The Century Magazine_ here: http://www.unz.com/print/Century-1908nov-00032/) and republished in her 1916 collection _Xingu and Other Stories_ (available online here: https://bit.ly/2tfoyKv). While Act I of the adaptation (including the accident, the dead man in the road, the dead man’s son seeking revenge, and the police investigation) is almost entirely Agate’s invention, the first part of Act II and much of Act III closely follow the plot of Wharton’s “The Choice” and directly quote her dialogue on numerous occasions.

There is a faint possibility—since the central character in “The Beast” claims, at one point, that he hit a dog (not a man) in the road and Wharton’s “The Blond Beast” includes an important episode involving an injured dog in the road—that Agee’s first act may have been partially inspired by Wharton’s other story. The similarities between the two titles could, however, be entirely coincidental, since it’s made clear in the course of “The Beast” that its title is (at least in part) an allusion to Hamlet’s soliloquy (quoted here from the 1604 Second Quarto, Folger Shelfmark: STC 22276) in which he exclaims, “What is a man / If his chiefe good and market of his time / Be but to sleepe and feede, a beast, no more:” (http://www.quartos.org/main.php).

Best of luck with your book,
Dan Hefko

Wharton Queries: EW story on CBS Radio Mystery Theater

I’m hoping that you or someone in your organization would be able to help me identify a particular Edith Wharton story.I am writing a book about the CBS Radio Mystery Theater, a radio drama anthology that aired from 1974 through 1982. In 1979, the series broadcast an episode that they explicitly represent as being “adapted from a story by Edith Wharton.” Unfortunately, they do not specify which story.
The plot of the radio drama concerns a wealthy woman who recently married a selfish man. He has already lost much of her money and aims to lose more. She has fallen in love with his friend and attorney. The husband strikes and kills a man in a hit and run. The police investigate and suspect him. The victim’s son wants to find the killer. The husband becomes more selfish and intolerable. His wife and the attorney discuss killing him. He kills the attorney, Finally the son of the man killed in the hit and run murders the husband in revenge.
Do you have any thoughts about which, if any, Edith Wharton story this adaptation resembles, even if only vaguely? I’d be grateful for any help that you or members of you group might be able to provide. Please feel free to share my note with others who might have some ideas.
Thank you,
John Slavney
Update 2/2/19 from John Slavney

 

Thanks much for your help in solving this mystery. It’s my theory that Payton and Grams are mistaken and the only similarity is in the title. I am scouring Wharton’s short stories presently and think it’s just a matter of time before the experts or I come up with a better match!

The theory that it’s a loose adaptation based on generalized Nietzchean themes seems a bit too generous, IMHO.

I’ll post any findings or theories in the forum.

Thanks again for your interest and assistance! –John Slavney

Queries & Replies:

Hi folks! My name is Lily Curtis, and I am a high school teacher at Shepherd Hill Regional High School in Dudley, Massachusetts. I teach two different sophomore classes who are both currently reading Ethan Frome. My plan for an end of unit assessment is a piece of narrative writing where students either extend the story or change the ending as the time period switches back to that of the present with the narrator. I want them to include narrative elements and dialogue appropriate to characterization. I would love to involve the society in some way to make the assignment more “real” for my students and get them writing for an authentic audience. If anyone would be available to come into the school as a guest member to listen to student adaptations when they are completed, it would be an amazing help! If anyone has additional ideas of how they would like to be involved, or come in and help during a writer’s workshop leading up the due date, that would be awesome! Feel free to email me separately!

Name: Lily Curtis

Email: lcurtis@dcrsd.org

Website: http://www.dcrsd.org/schools/shepherd-hill-regional-high-school

Queries: Introduction of Ellen in TheAge of Innocence

My name is Robin Oliveira. I live in Seattle. I am the author of three books, My Name is Mary Sutter, I Always Loved You, and Winter Sisters, all historical fiction. I hold an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. I’m researching my next book  and came across your name while perusing the Edith Wharton Society Web site. The book will not be non-fiction, but fiction.
I have a question and I’m wondering whether or not you can either direct me to someone who is an expert on The Age of Innocence, or whether or not you have considered the following question. I realize I’m imposing, and if you are too busy to address my question, thank you for your time, and I understand.
I’ve been studying The Age of Innocence in preparation for my new book. I’m very interested in the role of rumor in the narrative. There are many ways in which rumor works in the novel, but I’ve run into an interesting, almost niggling example. In my close reading of the text, I’ve noticed that Wharton gives three separate descriptions of Countess Olenska’s arrival in NY.
One,  she appears suddenly and without warning: chapter II: Archer knew that she had suddenly arrived from Europe a day or two previously “
Two,  her uncle Mingott went to NY to retrieve her: chapter II: “I believe Lovell Mingott went out to get her….” This is Lefferts.
(Both can’t be true, since Archer is so close by now to the Mingott family that he would have known whether or not Mingott went out to get her. Mingott’s absence and errand would have been known to NYC society.)
And third, all NY knew she was coming: I can’t at this moment, pinpoint it in the text, but there is a reference that says it was known to everyone that she was coming.
MY question is whether or not this inconsistency in the text is something Wharton scholars have discussed to your knowledge? If so, have they concluded that Wharton was deliberate in placing three different explanations of Ellen’s arrival as a subtle machination of rumor in the novel? Or, perhaps it is a way to increase the mystery around the Olenska character? Both seem possible to me. Less possible is that Wharton was careless. The novel is so meticulously crafted that as an author, I doubt she was, but I’m wondering.
Have you an understanding/opinion?
Thank you very much for your time,
Sincerely,
Robin Oliveira

Wharton Queries: What makes Wharton a significant short story writer?

I am currently an undergraduate at the University of Suffolk in the UK and in my second year of a BA Hons in English. Our current assignment is an overview and appraisal of a significant short story writer and I have chosen to write about Edith Wharton.

Would you therefore be able to suggest why Edith Wharton is so significant in the field of Short Story writers and why the popularity of her short stories still endures. Also, if you think her short stories were instrumental in bringing about social awareness and change for women?

Thank you very much in advance.

Caroline Roberts
Undergraduate

s184868@ucs.ac.uk

Wharton Queries: Teachable EW story involving gender and class?

Hello Wharton-loving friends,
I’m a high school teacher about to move my students from a unit on Jane Eyre into American literature including Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and some contemporary writers. I wish we had time to read Ethan Frome, but we don’t. Is there a Wharton short story you would particularly recommend as relatively accessible, relatively short, and interested in the matters of gender and class that interest my students?
Gratefully,
Lelac.

Queries: House of Mirth illustration

Although I read Edith Wharton’s novel The Age of Innocence (1920) before reading her novel The House of Mirth (1905),
I am curious to know in which book and in which chapter does the text for the illustration that reads…
“She lingered on the broad stairway, looking down into the hall below”, appear?

Thanks

 —
This illustration is the frontispiece for The House of Mirth and appears opposite the title page; I’ve just added this information, which wasn’t available before. It is from Chapter 3, page 38 of the first edition. You can see it and other illustrations at http://public.wsu.edu/~campbelld/wharton/hmirth1.html.
–Donna Campbell