— But you will be ready to say, what was your hope in doing this? — What did you look forward to? — To any thing, every thing — to time, chance, circumstances, slow effects, sudden bursts, perserverance and weariness ... Every possibility of good was before me, and the first of blessings secured ... — from Emma, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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March 3, 2013

Sunday Reading: Edith again



On Thanksgiving Day, 1905, amid icy weather at Lenox, the Whartons (in Edith's diary note) gave thanks for the best year of their lives. The House of Mirth was selling at a tremendous rate. Edith had started work on a new novel tentatively called 'Justine Brent," bearing in mind no doubt Charles Scribner's jocular request that 'in your next book you must give us a strong man, for I am getting tired of the comments on Selden.' ...
      ... 'Goodbye to the year 1905,' Edith wrote in her diary on New Year's Eve, and greeted 1906 with the satisfied observation that  her novel was still the best selling book in New York. ...
      
      A late-winter bout of influenza and bronchitis delayed the sailing for France, and her miseries did not increase Edith's fondness for New York.  She found herself longing equally, and characteristically, for the Berkshires and for Europe. 'I am wretched at being in town,' she told Sara Norton.  'Oh, to live in the country all the year around.' But there was the even stronger appeal of France and England, and the 'mental refreshment that I can get only la bas ,,, Still, from her sickbed, she reaffirmed her disinclination to expatriate. 'One would feel, I am sure, if one lived in another country, the alien's inability to take part, help on, assert one's self for good. ... But,' she concluded, 'I speak through wool, darkly,' fevered and congested by flu. ...

       It was snowing lightly in Paris, too, when the Whartons arrived there on the afternoon of [March] twenty-fifth, after debarking in Cherbourg before dawn that morning.  They took a suite of rooms on the second floor of the Hotel Domenici, on Rue Castaglione near the Place Vendome. Edith discovered at once that, as the author of The House of Mirth, she had suddenly become the object of considerable interest in certain quarters of French society, particularly in the Faubourg St. Germain. ...

     In mid-April, Edith accepted an invitation from her brother Harry to move over to his hotel (town house), fronting a tiny square, which he had recently acquired at 3 Place  des Etats Unis. She was beginning to feel that Paris, and specifically the Faubourg St. Germain, might be where she belonged:  all her early aversion to the city melted away as she came to appreciate the coherence of life there, the almost effortless intermixture of the artistic and the fashionable, the steady nourishment of 'the warm dim background of a long social past.'


from Edith Wharton:  a biography, by R.W.B. Lewis

I've missed her. :)



1 comment:

JoAnn said...

Congratulations on your happy reunion! ;-)
I will get to Hermione Lee's bio eventually...

Thank you for visiting!

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