“Patrimoine!” We heard it everywhere we went when we were in France.
The houses of President’s Washington, Jefferson and Madison have been lately in the news. Washington’s Grist Mill is once again distilling whisky (although the first batch was undrinkable.) Jefferson’s wine cellars are being restored. Madison’s Montpelier underwent a multi-million dollar historical restoration, stripping away years of DuPont coating. These were great men, whose words and deeds helped to give birth to a fledging Republic which would go on to become one of the greatest nations on earth.
Their words are considered more relevant today than are the writings of “the first woman and… the third novelist to win the Pulitzer Prize.” She was no war hero, after all, although her work with displaced persons, orphans and refugees of World War I, won her the French Legion d’Honneur. But I’m pretty sure that even French schoolchildren are no longer taught her name.
Edith Wharton didn’t feel entirely comfortable in the modern world that arose from the mud of the “war to end all wars.” She would have recognized many of the same problems that beset her world reflected in the one in which we now live. If only because of the current mortgage crisis.
Ms. Wharton, you see, is in danger of being posthumously evicted.
This is not a good time to ask for money. I’m aware of that. But if you can’t open your chequebook, you may still open your fountain pen and sign a petition or open your notebook and continue to blog about the closing of The Mount.
The deadline to avert a true horror-show is October 31st. They are halfway to their goal of raising USD$3 million. If they can’t reach the goal, none of the gifts will be processed and the house will be sold to a private individual. USD$10 will go a long way, if we harness the economies of scale of the internet.
The political candidates of both parties have more than enough at the moment. Let’s help save a little of our literary past to nurture our future.