Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Edith Wharton's other "niece"

Whartonians are all familiar with Beatrix Farrand, one of America's foremost landscape gardeners and Mrs. Wharton's niece, the only one that we knew about, anyway. This article by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times, indicates that there may have been a rather less reputable "niece" out and about in New York. The article also posits some interesting ideas on how to bring journalism in its printed form back to the forefront of the media. This hearkens back to our recent panel on Food Writing here at The Mount, and the very interesting timing of the closure of Gourmet Magazine shortly after.

Ms. Dowd's gambling idea has some promise, but one does balk at the new Conde Nast dating website which purports to “unite glamorous girls with fashion-conscious GQ-reading boys to create matches made in style heaven.” However, anything that promotes and assists the written (and printed) word is something that The Mount will support. Perhaps a site for like-minded Wharton "nieces" and "nephews" might be the way forward ...
(The photo above is by E.J. Bellocq and was taken in the infamous Storyville district of New Orleans sometime in the early 20th c.)

Edith Wharton's Paris

no. 58 rue de Varenne

Last Sunday's New York Times contained an interesting article about Edith Wharton and her years in Paris. It mentions Morton Fullerton, with whom she is known to have had an affair. (Some of us have our theories about Walter Berry, but that is for another day's blogging ... ).Our favorite quote from the article "She and Fullerton plotted their encounters via the text-message technology of the era: a furious exchange of brief notes delivered often several times a day by the Paris postal system."

Your blogger also came across this article printed in 1975 and written by R.W.B. Lewis, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning biography of Edith Wharton, now out-of-print but still obtainable through used and rare booksellers. This details his discovery of the affair with Fullerton, and of a side of Edith Wharton's life which had been previously unknown. Not as timely as the article above, but of interest to Whartonians nonetheless.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Mount is in a beautiful and interesting part of the world ...

Your self-styled intrepid blogger, an inhabitant of the southern part of Berkshire County, is not actually as intrepid as all that, and tends to confine herself to a ridiculously limited geographical area. Of course, as that area includes The Mount, who can wonder at this self-imposed isolation? However, as a result of being called to do her civic duty as a citizen and report for jury duty, she found herself in the heart of the northern Berkshires, North Adams, Massachusetts. She was not alone on her trek northward, and those companions who were not called upon to perform one of the most precious rights and privileges given to a citizen of these United States, were able to take advantage of this opportunity. They visited Mass MoCA and in particular the Sol Lewitt Wall Drawing Retrospective. This was a treat that cannot be more highly recommended by these companions, one of whom who admittedly attended Byam Shaw School of Art and tends toward a rather Lewittian world view at times. There is time to see it, as it is going to be in place for 25 years, but it is a fantastic conglomeration of his work.

Civic duty notwithstanding, your blogger did find a little time at the end of the day to visit one of the most impressive natural features of the Berkshires, the summit of Mount Greylock. It was snowing. In October. When the snow stopped, and the view cleared it was indescribable.

As this post has not yet mentioned Edith Wharton, it seems fitting to add at this point that Mrs. Wharton, in the back seat presumably, was in the car when her chauffeur, Charles Cook of Lee, Massachusetts, was the first person EVER to drive a car up Mount Greylock! The above photo shows Charles Cook, Edith Wharton, her pal Henry James in the back, and Teddy Wharton with dogs standing by, in front of The Mount in about 1904. The Wharton legacy and influence lives on, even in the far and extremely picturesque northern Berkshires. Your blogger has had her eyes opened, today North Adams, tomorrow Vermont?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Foodies food-fest of fabulousness and can The Mount be called "bleeding edge?"

This news about Gourmet Magazine comes as a shock, and with such incredible timing that we had to blog it at once. The Mount hosted noted food writers Judith Jones, Amanda Hesser, Kim Severson, Oliver Strand, Amanda Kludt and Christine Muhlke on Saturday, October 3, in a discussion on the future of food writing. A great deal of the panel was taken up with the topic of print vs. internet, blogs vs. magazines, and of course, the flagship food magazine Gourmet was discussed at length. There was some speculation that the future of such landmark titles was uncertain, but this news seemed to come out of the blue.

The Mount presented a slideshow before the panel which addressed some of these issues in its own way and it is presented below for your edification. Click autoplay on the menu and enjoy!