2 Plunkett St, Lenox, MA 01240
The Mount’s executive director Susan Wissler shares her experience as editor of Edith Wharton in France by the late French scholar Claudine Lesage. Lesage’s study of Wharton is based on previously unknown sources that reveal new insights into her friendships and life abroad.
Edith Wharton in France chronicles Edith Wharton’s dogged efforts to penetrate the Byzantine levels of French high society, her love for the French and Italian countryside, and her consuming passion for the Mediterranean garden. While Lesage is initially skeptical of Wharton’s ability to “become French,” this work ultimately portrays a woman of indomitable spirit who ultimately succeeds in fashioning a French home of her own making in her beloved adopted country.
Claudine Lesage (1943 – 2013) obtained a Ph.D. in English Literature at Amiens in 1987, specializing in the works of Joseph Conrad. Lesage published several books about Conrad. In 1989, while researching Conrad at the library of the Côte d’Azur town of Hyères, Lesage discovered an unsigned manuscript that appeared to be an early work of Edith Wharton. After studying the manuscript, Lesage determined it was an unpublished account of Wharton’s 1888 Mediterranean cruise aboard the private yacht, The Vanadis. After publishing the journal as The Cruise of the Vanadis, Lesage probed further into Wharton’s work and her life, concentrating on the American writer’s French years. Lesage translated several Wharton short stories; edited Lettres a l’ami Francais (2001); and authored Edith Wharton en France (2011).
Dr. Lesage died in 2013 before she could publish her final manuscript, a work on Wharton’s life in France intended for an American audience.
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