Mandy Gagel

Mandy Gagel

Mandy Gagel

“Il carteggio di Vernon Lee e H.G. Wells (1904-1914)”

Nel mio intervento esamino la corrispondenza tra Vernon Lee e H.G. Wells conservata presso la University of Illinois. Le lettere di Lee a Wells non sono mai state pubblicate, mentre alcune di quelle di Wells alla scrittrice sono apparse in The Correspondence of H.G. Wells, 4 vols. (1998). Si tratta di testi importanti, scritti tra il 1904 e il 1914, che vertono per lo più sull’opera di Wells e sul pensiero dei due autori intorno alla società contemporanea e all’ideale utopistico. Wells, più giovane ma già autore di successo, teneva in gran conto l’opinione di Lee e le chiedeva consigli. Lee rispondeva senza lesinare acuti giudizi sulle sue opere, che sottoponeva a serrati close readings secondo il metodo che avrebbe sviluppato in The Handling of Words (1923). Le opinioni di Lee si spingevano finanche ai problemi matrimoniali di Wells, che all’epoca affrontò lo scandalo per la storia con Amber Reeves, e includono riflessioni su relazioni extraconiugali e coppia aperta. Lee considerava Wells un intellettuale affine, Wells ammirava il lavoro di Lee e si offriva di ospitarla durante i soggiorni in Inghilterra. L’amicizia proseguì fino allo scoppio della guerra, quando le loro posizioni politiche divennero inconciliabili. Wells sosteneva la causa alleata, come spiegò in The War that will End War (1914) inimicandosi socialisti e pacifistici, tra i quali la stessa Lee. Nel 1914 i due ingaggiarono una battaglia verbale sulle pagine del Nation riguardo al blocco americano d’importazioni di cibo dalla Germania, a cui Wells, contrariamente a Lee, si dichiarava favorevole. Fu così che la loro corrispondenza s’interruppe, per riprendere solo negli anni Venti. La mia analisi contestualizza il carteggio tra i due scrittori all’interno del coté intellettuale di cui entrambi facevano parte, con riferimenti ai periodici che pubblicarono i loro dibattiti pubblici, come Nation e The English Review.

 “The Correspondence of the Vernon Lee and H.G. Wells (1904-1914)”

My paper will focus on the correspondence of Vernon Lee and H.G. Wells. Lee’s letters to Wells have never been published, though a small number of Wells’ letters to Lee are published in The Correspondence of H.G. Wells, 4 vols. (1998). The MMS are housed in the special collections archive at the University of Illinois. This series of letters is a little known treasure of correspondence between 1904 and 1914 that addresses Wells’s books and both authors’ thoughts on utopian ideals and modern society. Wells, a younger but more commercially successful author than Lee, greatly respected her opinion of his books and requested criticisms from her, and she wrote back long reviews of his work. These reviews display her finely tuned critical eye and close-reading style that we see later in her important treatise, The Handling of Words (1923). Lee also counseled Wells on problems in his marriage. Her letters addressed his extra-marital affairs and views on open marriage, as their correspondence occurred during the public scandal of Wells’s affair with Amber Reeves. No matter what the subject matter, Lee clearly saw Wells as a like-minded intellectual, and he equally admired her work, inviting her to stay with his family whenever she was in England. They remained close friends until the outbreak of war in 1914.By that time their political differences had escalated to arguments. Wells was an ardent supporter of the Allied cause and voiced his views in The War that will End War (1914), which put him at odds with some of his socialist and pacifistic friends, including Lee. The two engaged in a war of words in the Nation in 1914 on the issue of America withholding food imports to Germany. Wells supported it and Lee did not. Their friendship was never the same after this exchange and their correspondence ceased for some time, until we see evidence of their renewed friendship in the 1920s. My paper will discuss in more detail the subjects of this vivid correspondence and contextualize them with explanations of the intellectual milieu in which they circulated, and evidence from the periodicals in which they published their public debates, such as the Nation and The English Review.

presentando edizioni critiche delle lettere di Vernon Lee e delle poesie di Amy Levy. Dal 2008 è curatore associato dei manoscrittidi Frederick Law Olmsted. Si sta inoltre laureando in digital humanities alla Loyola University di Chicago con una tesi che digitalizza parte delle lettere di Vernon Lee. I suoi interessi di ricerca si concentrano sulla letteratura inglese, americana e coloniale del tardo-Ottocento, con una particolare attenzione alla scrittura femminile, ai gender studies e alle pratiche testuali applicate all’edizione critica di manoscritti (corrispondenze e bozze). Altri ambiti di studio sono il movimento estetico degli anni 1870-90 e le pubblicazioni sul paesaggio e il design degli spazi naturali prodotti nel corso del Sette e Ottocento.

 

Amanda Gagel received her doctorate from Boston University’s Editorial Institute in 2008 where she completed scholarly editions of the Letters of Vernon Lee, as well as an edition of the poetry of Amy Levy. Since 2008 she has been full-time Associate Editor of the Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted and is currently pursuing an MA in digital humanities at Loyola University, Chicago where her thesis work will involve digitizing a portion of Vernon Lee’s letters. Her research interests include American and British literature of the late-nineteenth century, including works written in or about the British colonies. She specializes in the lives and works of female authors, gender studies, as well as the practice of textual scholarship in the editing of manuscripts (correspondence, drafts of an author’s work) to make scholarly editions or to better understand the writing process. Other research interests include the writers and critics of the aesthetic movement of the 1870s-1890s, as well as works on landscape and the design of natural space that were written during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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