Newly Discovered Edith Wharton lecture in the Times Literary Supplment, translated by CWEW editor Virginia Ricard

Newly discovered lecture “France and Its Allies at War: The Witnesses Speak” translated by Virginia Ricard, Wharton scholar and an editor of Wharton’s translations in The Complete Works of Edith Wharton (Oxford University Press).

Read an interview with Virginia Ricard about this piece next week at this site: http://whartoncompleteworks.org. 

https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/america-at-war-wharton/

On February 8, 1918, in a series called “France and Its Allies at War: The Witnesses Speak”, Edith Wharton gave a lecture in French to an audience of about 400. Why had the United States entered the war with such enthusiasm? How could Americans, who were only interested in money-making, be ready to fight? The lecture, which appears here for the first time in English and in edited form, was an attempt to answer these questions. It reveals Wharton’s interest in the early American settlers’ lasting contribution to democracy, and displays her wide – and generally unsuspected – knowledge of American history.

Virginia Ricard

There is a profound difference, a funda­mental difference, between the French and the Americans: a difference of language, far greater than that which exists between races of Latin origin, whose languages draw on a common linguistic fund. When an Italian or a Spaniard needs to translate his ideas into your language, he finds an equivalent, or even a synonym, far more easily than we do. For the person of purely Anglo-Saxon origin, there is, apart from the difficulty of pronunciation, that of finding exact equivalents in French for her American thoughts. If I call your attention to this obstacle, it is not merely to beg your indulgence. Rather, it is because I was invited to speak to you of my country and one of the most delicate questions concerning the relations between our two peoples is precisely the problem caused by the difference between our languages. If the United States and France were near neighbours, this obstacle would be less troublesome, but we are obliged to converse through the intermediary of the press and government statements. Each time I see the translation of a speech or an official American Government statement in a French newspaper I fear a misunderstanding.

(Read the rest at the Times Literary Supplement).

CWEWh welcomes Amy Blair, volume editor for The Gods Arrive

blairphotoCWEWh welcomes its new editor Amy Blair of Marquette University (http://www.marquette.edu/english/blair.shtml), who will be editing The Gods Arrive for the edition. From the Marquette.edu site:

Amy L. Blair is an associate professor of English at Marquette University and is co-editor, with James Machor, of the journal Reception: Texts, Readers, Audiences, History, the official journal of the Reception Study Society. Dr. Blair’s 2012 book Reading Up: Middle-Class Readers and the Culture of Success in the Early Twentieth-Century United States, was published by Temple University Press under the auspices of the Andrew Mellon Foundation-funded American Literatures Initiative. Reading Up investigates, through the lens of a reading advice column that ran for the decade between 1902 and 1912 in the Ladies’ Home Journal magazine, the way readerly desires for social, cultural, and financial capital affected readers’ reception of the canonical works of American literary realism and the less-celebrated, genteel literary bestselling fiction of the day. Dr. Blair’s current work in progress includes a study of Emily Newell Blair’s reading advice in Good Housekeeping magazine during the 1920s and 1930s; a cultural history of fan mail from the eighteenth century to 21st-century Twitterdom; and a nascent study of censorship as seen through a reception study lens.

Italian-Language Version of “The Duchess At Prayer” in Duke University’s Rubenstein Library

screen-shot-2016-01-25-at-7-38-22-pm (1)Italian-Language Version of “The Duchess At Prayer” in Duke University’s Rubenstein Library

The editors of CWEW, and Wharton scholars in general, are continuing to learn just how many drafts and manuscripts of Wharton’s work exist. Today, I discovered an Italian-language typescript of Wharton’s 1900 short story, “The Duchess at Prayer” (La Duchessa in Preghiera) in the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, a major archival collection currently undergoing processing at Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Initial review of the text indicates that it is a word-by-word translation of the story, with corrections in Wharton’s hand. The story was published in Scribners in August 1900 and then re-published inCrucial Instances (1901). The typescript is undated and no other correspondence or documents appear in the file.

Apparently, another typescript of “La Duchessa in Preghiera,” also undated, exists in Matilda Gay’s papers at the Frick. The next step would be for a reader to compare these two versions against the copy-text of “The Duchess at Prayer.”

I will be meeting with Lisa Unger Baskin, the donor of the collection, in a few weeks and am eager to learn more about the provenance of this typescript. What this suggests is that there may be many more relevant archival materials to be found as we continue our work with CWEW.

Meredith Goldsmith, Ursinus College

2015-2016 Duke University Humanities Writ Large Fellow