Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Louis Auchincloss, 1917-2010

The Mount was extremely saddened to hear of the death of our great friend, Louis Auchincloss. He was a wonderful and gifted writer, a true successor to Edith Wharton as chronicler of society's many foibles, and a fine, witty, and generous person. His biography of Edith Wharton, who was a friend of his mother's, is at hand on your blogger's desk at the moment, having been used as a reference just this morning. His support of our work at The Mount was always so inspiring to those of us who work here. He gave us many generous gifts, from personal items such as portraits of Edith Wharton and her family to the even more precious gift of his knowledge of Wharton and her time.

Your blogger's last encounter with him was on a visit to The Mount last summer (above). We were in the library, which contains a work by Friedrich Nietzsche with the flyleaf annotated in Edith Wharton's hand. Most of the notes are references to various passages in the book (Der Wille zur Macht, Bd. 1, in a 1906 set of the complete works), but one of them is a little bit unusual. Wharton has written at the bottom of the page "50 grains of veronal is the minimum fatal dose", and there has been much speculation on the reason for this, was it perhaps research for The House of Mirth or The Fruit of the Tree?

Mr. Auchincloss saw it gave us his interpretation without hesitation: "She was planning on doing Teddy in!"

We will miss him very much and offer our sincerest condolences to his family.

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