Queries Page: 2003

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PBS version of The House of Mirth Wharton on "Concept"
Ethan Frome in French (X) Wharton Quotation on Dogs?(X)
Rosedale/Belmont (X) Wharton and Women's Colleges
Two Versions of "The Other Two"? Drawing by Meslay
Wharton at the 1893 Columbian Exposition? "Keeping Up with the Joneses" and Wyndcliffe
Wharton's Essay on Flaubert?  

Poster of Edith Wharton?
QUESTION: Does anyone know if there is a poster of Edith Wharton suitable for framing?

michael longrie longriem@uww.edu



Christopher Gair on The House of Mirth
QUESTION: I am writing a paper on The House of Mirth.  In one of the articles I read, C. Gair quotes Ralph Marvell of The Custom of the Country re: the only way to remain pure is to perish.  This statement is not in quotation marks, so I assume it is a paraphrase.  Can someone tell me what the full quote is or where I can find it in the book? Jennifer Wilson


Custom of the Country in French?

QUESTION: I am trying to find out if The Custom of the Country has been translated into French. I would very much like to send my cousin a copy if it is available. Does anyone know if it has been done? I have called bookstores, searched Amazon's French division, talked to librarians and turned up nothing conclusive. If anyone has a good source for Wharton's works in other languages, I would very much appreciate it. Chris Kellett 10/3/03

"The Custom of the Country" has been translated in French under the name "Les beaux mariages" (anonymous poster)


I believe I saw a French translation of *Custom of the Country* in one of the two English-language bookstores on Rue de Rivoli during my trip to Paris in early June 2003. As for its title, I cannot recall it, but I do believe it was in "la literature anglo-saxon" section. I apologize for such imprecise information; contacting either store could help. Billy Clem, womearaclem at yahoo.com 11.2.03


Wharton's Essay on Flaubert

QUESTION: I would like to know the bibliography of the essay Edith Wharton wrote about Gustave Flaubert. Thank you.



Wyndcliffe and "Keeping up with the Joneses"

QUESTION: Hi, I am a journalist writing an article about Wyndcliffe, the Rhinebeck, NY manor of Elizabeth Schermerhorn Jones, Edith Wharton's paternal aunt. Previous postings on the list indicate that Wyndcliffe might be the origin of the phrase "Keeping up with the Joneses," because the mansion was the biggest home in the area at the time it was built. I've also heard that Edith Wharton's parents' lavish lifestyle and wealth was the source of the phrase.
Does anyone know what the origin of the phrase "Keeping up with the Joneses" is? Is there any consensus whether Wyndcliffe is indeed the origin of the phrase?
Rachel Silverman

See the Queries 1999 page for one answer, but more information about this would be very welcome. Here's what it says:

According to Shari Benstock's No Gifts from Chance, "Sometime before she was three years old, Edith visited her father's stern, unmarried sister, Elizabeth Schermerhorn Jones, at Wyndcliffe, her eighty-acre estate on the Hudson River.  Elizabeth, too, had suffered a terrible illness in childhood, but her parents saved her from the tuberculosis that had killed two of her siblings by shutting her away for nine months in the Mercer Street family house in Lower Manhattan.  They sealed the windows of her bedroom and kept the fireplace lit; by these drastic measures, Elizabeth Jones survived into hardy adulthood and became a 'ramrod-backed old lady compounded of steel and granite.'  In 1852, she built a twenty-four-room turreted villa, the most expensive house ever before built in Rhinecliff, New York.  Such display of wealth, it was said, gave rise to the expression 'keeping up with the Joneses' (26). Benstock  gives as her source a New York State Conservation Association pamphlet on the house, p. 157.  D. Campbell,

QUESTION: The name of the property in Rhinebeck, New York where Edith Wharton stayed with her aunt when she (Edith Wharton) was a young girl.

Miriam Carroll

This is probably Wyndcliffe. Here's what our FAQ page has to say:

Wyndcliffe. Edith Wharton's aunt, Elizabeth Schermerhorn Jones, built a 24-room house called Wyndcliffe in Rhinebeck in 1852. Legend has it that this is the source of the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses."

Pictures and descriptions are available on the Web at http://www.hudsonvalleyruins.org/yasinsac/wyndcliffe/wyndcliffe.html .
A collection of drawings, pictures, and maps is available at the American Memory Home Page. Note: A stable URL is not available for this page; click on the link and type "wyndcliffe" in the search box.


QUESTION: I'm writing a short piece about "Afterward" and am wondering if there are particular articles, essays or books about this story -- or about Edith Wharton's supernatural fiction generally -- which I should read first. All suggestions gratefully receieved, along with as much bibliographic details as I'll need to track them down.

Thank you!

Lisa Tuttle Lisa@torinturk.freeserve.co.uk

Edith Wharton Quotation

Can someone tell me the source of this Edith Wharton quote?
"I believe I know the only cure, which is to make one's centre of life inside of one's self, not selfishly or excludingly, but with a kind of unassailable serenity--to decorate one's inner home so richly that one is content there, glad to welcome any one who wants to come and stay, but happy all the same in the hours when one is inevitably alone."
Helene Stone rmshs@earthlink.net



Drawing by Meslay

I have a print or drawing, somewhat old, Paris scene. Paris La Madelene- signed in pencil Meslay. Can Anyone help to locate this artist or any other information? Thank you.
Teresa Tripptrippball@yahoo.com


Wharton and Women's Colleges

Women's colleges in America--Wellesley, Smith, Vassar, Bryn Mawr--enjoyed a surge of popularity
c. 1900-1920.
There were many articles published about them in
the same magazines Wharton's work appeared (Scribner's, Collier's, Century). Increasingly, daughters of the wealthy began attending. Does anyone know Wharton's opinion of this?
On the one hand, one imagines she would approve as
she was very well read. On the other hand, the daughters of the wealthy lived with the daughters of the middle and working class, and did shocking things like use slang and go hatless on campus.

Sandra Foster 4/19/03


Wharton Quotation on Dogs

I am writing a book about Papillon dogs. Edith Wharton was one of the first Americans to own this breed; I have a copy of a wonderful photo of her with an old-fashioned Papillon perched on each shoulder.

There is a quote that is widely attributed to Edith Wharton in dog books, but I've never seen it anywhere else. The quote is: "My little dog -- a
heartbeat at my feet." I am trying to verify that she did (or didn't) write
this wonderful little phrase. Can you shed any light on the subject?

I really hope you can help me!

For your information: The book is called "A New Owner's Guide to Papillons" and will be published by TFH publishing, a major pet publisher. Among my other credentials, I am the pet columnist for The Oregonian newspaper in Portland. You can see my recent columns at www.oregonlive.com/pets.

Thank you so much for any help you can give me; I really work hard to make my
writing very accurate.

Deborah Wood



QUESTION: Re: Edith Wharton and dogs. Thank you so much for the information about the quote, "My old dog/A heart-beat/At my feet." I will be sure that it is used correctly in the text of my book! You were a great help!

Deborah Wood

Deborah Wood didn't leave an e-mail address, so I'm replying to the list instead. The phrase she quotes is almost all of a little haiku-like poem, one of several Wharton published under the title "In Provence and Lyrical Epigrams" in _Yale Review_ vol. 9 (January, 1920), 346-348. The poem is the first of the "Lyrical Epigrams," and reads thus:

My little old dog:
A heart-beat
At my feet.

"In Provence and Lyrical Epigrams" is available from the Electronic Text
Center at the University of Virginia Library

Jim Wallace


This is a reply to Deborah Wood's query about the Wharton quote on dogs: that quote can be found as a scrapbook sticker in the collection published by Susan Branch. I have used it myself in a scrapbbook I have made for all my foster dogs - and that particular foster dog actually joined the family. Just FYI

Sharon Kneeland shash56@yahoo.com 6/6/03

Wharton on "Concept"

The saxophonist Wayne Shorter was discussing what the term "concept" means in a recent interview, and he referred to Edith Wharton's discussion of the term in the introduction to one of the early editions of "The House of Mirth." Does anyone know which edition and, perhaps, how to obtain a copy of the introduction? Thanx.

K. Leander Williams
Staff Writer, Music Section
Time Out New York
627 Broadway, 7th Flr
New York, NY 10012


Two Versions of "The Other Two"?

QUESTION: Does anyone know the publishing history of the short story "The Other Two"? One version from The Descent of Man and Other Stories (1904) has three main parts, but another version from Roman Fever and Other Stories (Scribners 1964) has five major sections. Did Wharton add to the story at a later time? Or ? Ellen Knodt eak1@psu.edu

PBS Version of The House of Mirth

QUESTION: I hope this will qualify as a scholarly query (I'm a scholar, though not of Wharton!). Not very hopefully, I'm looking for a tape of the 1981 PBS TV production of The House of Mirth. I've failed to find it via the usual sources, including PBS, which doesn't deal with things that far back. Conceivably a Wharton scholar might have made or acquired such an item?
Though I'm no specialist, it seemed to me when I saw it back then to be quite an intelligent, moving film. In retrospect at least, I like it rather better than the recent much longer & more (perhaps too) lavishly produced movie. I'd appreciate any tips.

John Rhodes, jrhodes@wellesley.edu

Scott Marshall discusses this in his article on Wharton and film, but his information comes from a copy taped at the time of broadcast. This may be available in a television archive, but unfortunately I'm not aware of another place where it would be available. Depending on the copyright laws, it might be possible to arrange a tape exchange if a Wharton Society member would contact the EWS with information about a copy, but so far, no one has come forward since a similar request was made in 2000. Sorry.

--D. Campbell

Ethan Frome in French?

QUESTION: I have heard rumors that Edith Wharton actually began writing "Ethan Frome" in French. Is there any validity to this statement, and is there any additional, scholarly information on this idea? Thanks. jamielibby@teacher.com

Yes, it's true that Edith Wharton began writing Ethan Frome in French, in part as an exercise in writing in a more contemporary form of the language. She began it while living in Paris. Both Shari Benstock and R. W. B. Lewis provide details in their biographies of Wharton, and I seem to recall that Wharton mentions this in A Backward Glance.

--Donna Campbell

Wharton at the 1893 Columbian Exposition

QUESTION: I would like to know if Wharton attended the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Eleanor Dwight mentions the expo in _The Gilded Age_ as a site of intense interest in architecture. My dissertation is concerned with Wharton's background in architecture. Her compiled letters (Lewis) do not indicate that she attended.

Barbara Kernan, blkernan@students.wisc.edu




I had read somewhere that Wharton had based the character of Rosedale in "House of Mirth" on August Belmont, Sr. Another site claimed that the charcter of Beaufort in Age of Innocence was based on Belmont.

I would like to know if any of your members has any knowledge of the relationship of Wharton to Belmont. I did find information showing her friendship with his son and daughter- in- law in connection with their work for the Metropolitan Opera. I would be interested in people's comments on anti- semitism in the novels.

Thank you.

Judith Daar, Berkeley

It's likely that August Belmont served as the model for Julius Beaufort in The Age of Innocence rather than for Rosedale. I discuss the subject of Daar's inquiry in depth in my essay "The Perfect Jew and The House of Mirth," which appeared in the Edith Wharton Review Spring 2000 and also, earlier, in Modern Language Studies 23:2 Spring 1993, pp. 25-36. The later essay also discusses the work of several critics on the same subject. Belmont's son married a good friend of Wharton's and she and her family certainly saw the Belmont family socially.
Irene Goldman-Price icgp@epix.net