23 April 2008

Edith Wharton and The Mount

Every now and then, I give myself a little treat. I read a novel by Edith Wharton. No one is fresher, no one is funnier, no one more moving. The clarity of her prose is an absolute marvel. At the moment, I’m reading Twilight Sleep, a social satire of New York in the Twenties, that reads as if she wrote it yesterday — instead of 1927, long after she left the city for the last time. She immigrated here to France, where she died in 1937.

A friend alerted me to the imminent foreclosure on Wharton’s home in the Berkshires, The Mount. The house and its gardens are not only a shrine to one of the most important writers America ever produced, they’re also a testimonial to her gifts as an interior designer, open to the public during the warmer months.

Although the pending foreclosure is catastrophic news, I basically shrugged, reminded myself that I have no income, and assured myself that other people would take care of the problem. But a quick visit to the Edith Wharton website informs me that the problem has not been resolved; the Edith Wharton Restoration, the organization that runs the place has until tomorrow to raise $3 million, and they’re still far short of that goal.

To hell with it — I made a pledge. Please click on this link and pledge a contribution, too. And it’s only a pledge. Matching funds have been promised, but if the Restoration can’t raise the money, we won’t be charged a thing. A little bit from a lot of people could make the difference, and preserve not only a living monument but the public’s access to it.

Because, after all, I’d like to visit the place some day. Thank you.