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Roxana Robinson

Roxana Robinson

by Rachel Louchen

The Mount is famous as the summer home of literary great Edith Wharton, forever recognized for her contributions to literature. On August 28th visual, literary and performing modern day artists will speak at this historic site; one will be Wharton historian and Connecticut resident, Roxana Robinson.

Hailed as “one of our best writers" by The Washington Post, Robinson is well-equipped to speak about Wharton as she has edited and written introductions for books on the writer, contributed to multiple conversations and served on the Advisory Council at The Mount. In fact, according to Time, she is in the “august company" of Edith Wharton. The author of three collections of short stories and five novels including Sweetwater, Costand her most recent, Sparta, she was introduced to Wharton at a very young age by a very special relative.

“I was introduced to her work as a teenager. I had a very glamorous aunt who lived in New York, and I thought of her as being so in the world of glittery parties and such. I was looking through her library one day and came upon House Of Mirth, which I wasn’t familiar with. She said I must read it, and coming from her it seemed like such an interesting recommendation. I read House Of Mirth first and then Age Of Innocence, so I was familiar with her two greatest books before college and she always stayed with me."

Edith Wharton has had a lasting impression on Robinson, who teaches at The Hunter College MFA Program and always includes The House Of Mirth on her list of recommended books for her students. “Wharton is one of our great writers. I think she should be up there with our very best American writers. She is a beautiful stylist, very powerful. She has a breathtaking novelist eye and saw the tragic stressors beneath the life she led and those around her."

A common thread between Wharton and Robinson is their love of our region. While Wharton famously summered in the Berkshires, at the beautiful Mount in the equally stunning Lenox, Robinson lives in Cornwall, an area that has informed her writing. “I am a gardener, I do a lot of walking, live near a lake, swim in the lake...I feel a very strong connection to the landscape. The particular kind of beauty that exists in the Northwest Corner is incredible. The low hills, it's heavily wooded, lots of birds...I love the wildlife; the bears and coyotes. I take enormous pleasure being part of the natural panorama."

Her close proximity to the Mount surely doesn’t hurt either. Robinson originally became involved due to her love of Edith and helped plan the fall literary fest two years ago. The event this weekend is her only appearance at the Mount this season, will surely be an exciting event, and one to which she is looking forward. The panel will include artist Darren Waterston, Rachel Dickstein, director of a stage adaptation of The House of Mirth and Gilded Age author, Claire McMillan.

Roxana is currently working on a new book...but don't expect her to mention it at this discussion - or at all! “I don’t talk about the book when I work on it. If you talk about dissipate the project and waste your creative energy talking about it." Surely, Cornwall and the surrounding region add to her creative energy. “I love living here," she says, “and I try to spend as much time out here as I can!"

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