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.
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.”
Via Anna Girling. Note: it’s behind a paywall, so I have no idea what’s beyond this excerpt.
Who was Edith Wharton’s father?
As research assistant to R. W. B. Lewis, the prize-winning biographer of Edith Wharton, Marion Mainwaring – assigned in 1969 to investigate Wharton’s “Parisian phase” – found herself knocking on forbidding doors in unpredictable arrondissements of Paris, in far-flung hôtels de ville and at a remote psychiatric hospital in the French countryside as she doggedly pursued every shred of information she could find about a wily, elusive American expatriate named William Morton Fullerton. Fullerton (1865–1952), a Harvard graduate and a correspondent for The Times in Paris, was a roué and conman, a cosmopolitan libertine with a proclivity for the upper crust and satyr-like propensities for bisexual romantic entanglements (a wistful Henry James opined that he was “dazzling” but “not kind”), and chronically in debt because he was being blackmailed by a former mistress. He was also briefly, but pivotally and inexplicably, Wharton’s lover.
Phoebe Fox, Francesca Annis and Paul Ready star in the world premiere of a newly discovered play by Edith Wharton from 1901. Former nurse Kate Derwent carries a terrible secret.
Introduced by Dr. Laura Rattray.
Listen to more Wharton information here:
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Wharton’s novels, which explore the world of the privileged in America’s Gilded Age, in which she lived, written in hindsight and with little mercy.
I am writing to notify you of my stage adaptation of The Lady’s Maid’s Bell for a local community theatre here in Auckland, New Zealand. As far as I am aware this will be the first stage production of The Lady’s Maid’s Bell since the story was first published. If you have any members in Auckland, the following information may be of interest to them:
The Lady’s Maid’s Bell by Edith Wharton plays nightly at 7.30pm at The Pumphouse Theatre, Takapuna from 9th to 13th October.
If you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.