Monday, September 28, 2009

The ubiquitous Mount!

In a bloggy fog this week, The Mount is thrilled to find itself mentioned in many fascinating links in the news and blogosphere. Always proud to be at the cutting edge, The Mount is not afraid of tooting its own horn now and then, and is basking in the wholly deserved attention it is receiving. For some reason, The Mount is indulging in a feast of personification as well, and for that The Mount apologizes. Back to the link-o-mania--

Hamish Linklater of The New Adventures of Old Christine lived at The Mount as a boy and had ghostly encounters!

Beautiful fall destinations include The Mount!

Foodies are coming to talk about food writing, food blogging and food ...

Banned Books Week

This is Banned Books Week, designed to draw attention to the constant threat of censorship that exists not only throughout the world, but as a very real threat here in the United States. Of particular interest is the list of Banned and Challenged Classics, some of which were not only threatened when they first appeared, but are consistantly brought up again and again in this context.

Edith Wharton's works are not among the challenged on this list, but she certainly fought editorial censorship while trying to publish a number of her works, in particular Old New York The 'Fifties, The Old Maid. She was opposed to censorship both editorial and official, and in fact wrote to Upton Sinclair in support when his novel Oil! was charged with obscenity. Those who value freedom must never cease their vigilance and we encourage all who fight the banning of books.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Even More about Food!

Somehow in our travels throughout the blogosphere, we missed this very interesting blog entry about Edith Wharton and food from the extremely Whartonian blog An Aesthete's Lament.

Wharton often used dining, food, and entertaining in her writing as fantastic indications of her characters and their place in the world. As Diane McGee puts it in her book Writing the Meal: Dinner in the Fiction of Twentieth-Century Women Writers: "The society of Old New York decribed in The Age of Innocence is marked by many customs, rituals, and taboos; those surrounding dining and entertaining are the most potent and meaningful ones. Dining practices are central to social identity. ... As the author, Wharton plays the roles of both hostess and critical guest."

As Mrs. Wharton herself said in The Gods Arrive (1932): "The same trivial, over-dressed and over-fed people acquired a sort of Titianesque value from the sheer loveliness of their setting; grouped about the table with its fruits and flowers, framed in the pink marble shafts of the loggia, above gardens sloping away to the illuminated curve of the shore, they became as pictorial as their background, and Vance’s first thought was: “If only they knew enough not to speak!”

Here at The Mount we have the dining room set as a table for six and try to give Mrs. Wharton more interesting dinner companions than the ones of whom she writes above! We hope she would approve of our current choices, Miss Michelle Pfeiffer and Mr. Daniel Day-Lewis, who both appeared in 1993 film of The Age of Innocence; Mr. Liam Neeson of 1993's Ethan Frome; Mr. Dan Ackroyd, Gus Trenor in 2000's The House of Mirth; and in pride of place (other than our hostess Mrs. Wharton of course) Miss Bette Davis, who appeared in the 1939 movie version of The Old Maid.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Julie and Julia and Judith and Edith

Food writers, food bloggers, and food critics will be converging on The Mount on October 3 for a panel discussion on the Future of Food Writing. Among our panelists will be Judith Jones, the food writer and book editor, who, among her many many other accomplishments, introduced Julia Child to the American reader (the photograph above shows them together); another is Amanda Hesser, food writer and blogger. Both of these women appear in this summer's hit movie Julie and Julia, with Amanda actually appearing in the film, and of course Judith Jones is a featured character, played in the film by Erin Dilly. This event should prove interesting to both foodies and writers, and writers who eat, or foodies who write. What else can we say but "Bon appétit!"

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wharton's work wows WowOwow

The wonderful website WowOwow has just added a photo essay on The Mount, in particular focusing on the gardens. They were designed by Mrs. Wharton herself, with help from her niece, Beatrix Farrand, née Jones. Beatrix Farrand became one of the United States's leading landscape designers and gardeners. She was the only woman to be made a charter member of the American Society of Landscape Architects. At The Mount, Mrs. Farrand designed the maple sugar allée pictured above which leads to the main house. She also designed the kitchen and cutting garden, but unfortunately this garden is no longer extant. There are some apple trees left from the Wharton's time here, but that is all. We hope in the future to resurrect the kitchen and cutting garden and do have Beatrix Farrand's drawings to which to refer.

Our own WoW--Wharton on Wednesdays--has finished for the season and we would like once again to thank the members of the Berkshire Theatre Festival who read for us this year. Our readers were Kate Maguire, Ariel Bock, Jonathan Epstein, Ralph Petillo, Tara Franklin, Gray Simons, David Adkins and Robert McFadyen. We have been so grateful for their help and their absolutely wonderful performances at our readings. We look forward to a long relationship with BTF and they may as well consider this written notice that we want them back next season! (Or maybe even sooner!)