Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Who shall be our Edith?

As promised, we at The Mount are trying to assemble the perfect cast for a proposed biopic of Edith Wharton. Who knows, if we get the right package together perhaps an "angel" will appear with plenty of cash and we will be able to make our dream a reality! We herewith present a potted description of our heroine, Edith Newbold Jones Wharton.

A description of Edith Jones as a small child from Shari Benstock's No Gifts from Chance: "Our first glimpse of Edith is a miniature by an unknown artist made when she was three years old. Pale blue eyes peer wide-eyed from a squarish chubby cheeked face. Her lips are drawn in a bow, eyebrows sketched by two curved lines, the red hair pulled into big sausage curls at the temples. Later pictures emphasize her high, wide forehead and under shot jaw."

From Hermione Lee's biography comes a description of Edith Wharton in 1907 at age 45 at the beginning of her relationship with Morton Fullerton (pictured below):
"Edith was looking handsome and fine, in her dark furs and silks, her laces and pearls and elegant hats, her long, strong serious face with its large dark eyes and strongly arched eyebrows and ironical smile softened by a great sweep of dark-reddish hair pinned up in a large loose bun. She was not beautiful--her nose was too long, her chin too heavy and square, her build too stocky and her smile too tight, and her expression still showed something of that nervous apprehensive reserve that made her looks, in her twenties, so painfully tense."

(As an aside, your blogger, who suffered for years with the most horrible braces, does believe that modern orthodontics might have spared Mrs. Wharton the very prominent underbite which is so apparent in her adult photos.)

We have decided to leave out any descriptions from Percy Lubbock's Portrait of Edith Wharton. As they say in Wikipedia, its neutrality is disputed. Wharton's own godson, William Royall Tyler, said it was written by someone who appeared to "despise" Edith Wharton. Hermione Lee puts it very well: "Lubbock pursues with gusto [his] version of the chilly controlling chatelaine, which can make Edith Wharton sound like the character played by Margaret Dumont in the Marx Brothers films."
But who could have realized that this would serendipitously lead us to another perfect casting opportunity!!!

Please keep on sending in your suggestions and comments!

1 comment:

  1. Maybe a Hollywood version of Edith could be Bryce Dallas Howard...