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.