Thursday, April 13, 2006

New Queries (Jan-April 2006)


"Beatrice Palmato" criticism

I am currently researching my Masters dissertation on Edith Wharton particularly representations of art, money and gender/sexuality in The House of Mirth and The Custom of the Country. I am hoping to draw in the extract "Beatrice Palmato" but am struggling to find any criticism on the text that focusses on the explicit sexuality without recourse to the incestuous nature of it. The only article I can find is Reinaldo Francisco Silva's "Eroticizing the Other in Edith Wharton's "Beatrice Palmato"", can anyone recommend anything else, or even another example of such extraordinary explicitness on the part of Wharton? Thanks for your help.

Kate Ashton,


Wharton's WWI essays

Edith Wharton's WWI essays. I will appreciate help locating any of the essays she wrote about/during the war.

Thanks, Beverly Simpson


REPLY: Regarding Wharton's World War I essays: those she published in Scribner's Magazine were collected in the volume _Fighting France_. (This is out of print but can probably be obtained through Interlibrary Loan.) She wrote many other articles as well, some of which are collected in Appendix B of my 2004 book, _Edith Wharton's Writings from the Great War_ (University Press of Florida).

--Julie Olin-Ammentorp, 4/7/06


Real-life Undine Spragg?

Among the many candidates who might be possible real-life sources/inspirations/models for the figure of Undine Spragg in The Custom of the Country, has Ethel Tree Beatty ever been suggested?

She was the ambitious, rich and American-born wife of the English WWI Admiral Sir David Beatty. To marry Beatty, she abandoned claim to her son by her first husband. When he died some years later, she had a messenger inform her son (then at his father's bedside) that after the death he would need to come with her. She also had to pull strings to be received at the Royal Court, because the divorced were generally not received by the monarch.

She had two children during her marriage with Beatty, one of whom was generally known not to have been Sir David's.

There are other details in her life that suggest her as a model for Undine.

As a longtime Wharton reader and admirer, I would appreciate any guidance.

Douglas Haneline, 3/21/06


Theatre Adaptations of Wharton's Works

Hello - I'm looking for any recommendations for theatre adaptations of Wharton's novels. We're a new London-based company looking specifically for adaptations of female writers' work. If anyone has any recommendations, I would love to hear them, particularly if they have yet to be produced in the UK. Louise

REPLY: The Mint Theater Company in New York has put on several adaptations of Wharton's works and might have suggestions.

If readers have other suggestions, please send them to the site.

**Update 3/24/06****

Regarding Louise Hill's inquiry about theater adaptations of Wharton novels: Mint Theater Company in New York has published the dramatization of The House of Mirth that Wharton wrote herself in 1906, along with playwright Clyde Fitch. The Mint text revises the play somewhat using material from the novel. Mint also has a copy of the Margaret Ayer Barnes' 1928 dramatization of The Age of Innocence. For more information please contact Mint Artistic Director Jonathan Bank:
Edith Wharton--travel to San Francisco?

Did Edith Wharton ever visit San Francisco?

Deborah Doyle 3/9/06


Wharton's family--New York?

Can you tell me if Edith Wharton's family originated in New York City society and if the family name is related to the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. I know from my own New Jersey family that many of the old names came from one root. I am thinking of Vanevar Bush and George Bush both also from Massachusetts history. Thank you for you reply.

Carolyn Gill 3/5/06

People resembling their houses

In a memoir, A Place in the Country, by Laura Shaine Cunningham, she writes that Wharton wrote that people became their houses, even looked like them. Cunningham, of course, gives no citation. Does this ring true with you and do you have any ideas as to where I might find this thought. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Judith Church Tydings
jtydings at xecu dot net



Edith Wharton's dogs

I'm the author of a series of books for young people about Impressionist painters and their circle ("Charlotte in Giverny," "Charlotte in Paris," "Charlotte in New York") published by Chronicle Books. Now Charlotte is off to Italy where she meets Edith Wharton. Charlotte loves dogs and has a Brussels Griffon named Toby. I'd like to know more about Edith Wharton and her dogs. Did she have any breeds other than Papillons? What are some of the names she gave her dogs? Many thanks! Joan Knight

Joan M. Knight 2-10-06

Scarcity of French Ways and their Meaning

Can you inform me as to the scarcity of dust jacketed copies of the first UK edition of 'French Ways and their Meaning' London,1919?

Used book sites on the internet all seem not to have seen a dust jacketed copy of "French Ways and their Meaning". Is it really that scarce?
B Benneworth 2-10-06

Berkshire Evening Eagle Article on Sledding Accident (Ethan Frome)

I'm about to begin a unit on Ethan Frome and I found a reference to a March 12, 1904 article in the Berkshire Evening Eagle about a fatal coasting accident that may have served as inspiration for the accident in Ethan Frome. Would the Society have such an article, and if so, how may I attain a copy? Thank you.
P.S. The reference to the article is in The Glencoe Literature Library Study Guide for Ethan Frome.
Thomas Ross
Language Arts Department
Danbury High School, Danbury, Conn.

REPLY: We don't have this available on the Wharton Society site, but it can be found in a widely used edition of Ethan Frome: Kristin O. Lauer and Cynthia Griffin Wolff's Ethan Frome (Norton Critical Edition), published by W. W. Norton in 1995, pages 86-90.

--D. Campbell


REPLY: The Berkshire Evening Eagle article on the sledding accident is also included as an appendix to the Penguin Classics edition of ETHAN FROME--or at least it used to be (I haven't seen the most recent re-printing).

-- F. Wegener 2-8-06

Countess Olenska: Part of the Money Plot?

I have been trying to research Countess Olenska's contribution to the triangle in "Age of Innocence", but no reviewers or discussions on the internet ever concede that she may have been part of the plot to get the money from the grandmother to return to Europe and live their "on her terms".
Can you recommend a website where I can pursue this?

jeanne haigis pedler 1/23/06



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