Thursday, March 08, 2012

Hi! And Can I Share a Paragraph?

If anybody's still out there, and I am not sure why you would be, here I am again to say hello and to share a paragraph. Not one of mine, you may be grateful to hear. I picked up Edith Wharton's famous book, The Age of Innocence at a library sale a year or so ago and just got around to it the other day. I read this passage last night before bed and it got me wondering where in our house we might have room for a little shrine to Edith Wharton.

It is a description of the elderly doyenne of 1870's New York society: Mrs. Manson Mingott:

The immense accretion of flesh which had descended on her in middle life like a flood of lava on a doomed city had changed her from a plump active little woman with a neatly-turned foot and ankle into something as vast and august as a natural phenomenon. She had accepted this submergence as philosophically as all her other trials, and now, in extreme old age, was rewarded by presenting to her mirror an almost unwrinkled expanse of firm pink and white flesh, in the center of which the traces of a small face survived as if awaiting excavation. A flight of smooth double chins led down to the dizzy depths of a still-snowy bosom veiled in snowy muslins that were held in place by a miniature portrait of the late Mr. Mingott; and around and below, wave after wave of black silk surged away over the edges of a capacious armchair, with two tiny white hands poised like gulls on the surface of the billows.

I wish I could do that.


R. Sherman said...

Because it's just us friends here on the internet, let me say this:

The immense accretion of flesh which had descended on her in middle life like a flood of lava on a doomed city had changed her. . .

This is the precise problem with women. We husbands love them. We see them as they were 25 years ago. You don't change. You're beautiful. Hell, you've stuck with us! You deserve a medal.

But you insist upon cataloging with microscopic precision all your flaws as you get older.

Newsflash: I don't care! Get over it! Lord knows, I'm gray and balding. It happens.

There, I've had my rant.

Thank you, and


Kim Velk said...

Hey R -

I love that sentiment but I posted this little passage only because I thought the writing was so fantastic. It's true that my own middle age has included hmmm self-image problems as it does for lots of women but I was really intending only to tip my hat here to E. Wharton. Although, while we're on the point, it's interesting that the woman described here is depicted as not caring that she's a ruin. It sort of suits her position as a super planet in the NY society in which she moves - or sits... Thanks for weighing in though.

Nan said...

'here I am laughing' I love it! And a name! I'm so psyched. And I just went over to the new blog. I'll be spending more time there. Tell me more about Shifted. Email if you want. I am fascinated. Really.