Lady Edith Crawley has certainly suffered her share of romantic missteps, throwing googly-eyes in the direction of one or two undeserving gentlemen. In her girlish ardor, however, she is hardly alone.
Even Edith Wharton simpered once or twice, and the evidence of her endearing love sickness lives on in “The Life Apart (L’âme close),” commonly referred to as the Love Diary. Written during the early days of her love affair with Morton Fullerton, Wharton’s love diary reveals a passionate woman falling in love for the first time.
“For a month now I have been here alone – in another month, I shall be gone… I shall be gone, I shan’t see you, I shan’t hear your voice, I shan’t wake up to think: ‘In so many hours we shall meet, my hand will be in his, my eyes will be in his.’ … ? But what shall I be then? Nothing else lives in me now but you – I have no conscious existence outside the thought of you, the feeling of you. I, who dominated life, stood aside from it so, how I am humbled, absorbed, without a shred of will or identity left.
-Edith Wharton, The Life Apart (1908)
And despite the pain of inevitable heartbreak (which came often over the duration of her involvement with Fullerton), Wharton recognized the value of the experience. In a letter to Fullerton she wrote, “You told me once I should write better for this experience of loving. I felt it to be so.”
The original manuscript is housed at the Lilly Library at Indiana University.
“’The Life Apart’ : Text and Contexts of Edith Wharton’s Live Diary.” Ed. Kenneth Price and Phyllis McBride. American Literature 66.4 (Dec. 1994).
(This post was written by Kelsey Mullen, The Mount’s public programs coordinator and executive assistant)