[I]n the first place, New York was a metropolis, and perfectly aware that in metropolises it was not “the thing” to arrive early at the opera; and what was or was “not the thing” played a part as important in Newland Archer’s New York as the inscrutable totem terrors that had ruled destinies of his forefathers thousands of years ago.
Wharton was friend and confidante to many gifted intellectuals of her time: Henry James, Sinclair Lewis, Jean Cocteau and André Gide were all her guests at one time or another. Theodore Roosevelt, Bernard Berenson, and Kenneth Clark were valued friends as well. Particularly notable was her meeting with F. Scott Fitzgerald, described by the editors of her letters as “one of the better known failed encounters in the American literary annals”. She spoke fluent French, Italian, and German, and many of her books were published in both French and English.
In 1934 Wharton’s autobiographyA Backward Glance was published. In the view of Judith E. Funston, writing on Edith Wharton in American National Biography,
begins the formal portion of Isaiah which I am scheduled to chant in Hebrew on Saturday September 28th, the day before Rosh Hashana. .
This is the Hebrew:
שׂ֧וֹשׂ אָשִׂ֣ישׂ בַּֽיהוָ֗ה
This is how the first three verses of this Isaiah portion sounds when Sarah Leah, my sister, sang them to help me prepare.
What follows are these verses in Hebrew and English.These are the first verses from the Isaiah haftorah  reading on the day before Rosh Hashana, the Jewish calendar New Year Year .
Later, I will discuss the considerable age of the Hebrew text. This text has been handed down in written form for hundreds of years by and from generation to generation. The original draft contains occasional errors which are not corrected lest the instinct to correct might lead to unwanted consequences. Instead, when a mistake does appear it’s correction appears immediately afterward in brackets. Here is an example from this haftorah.
[Insert example here.]
The Jewish Publication Society is responsible for the English translation. My mother Dr. Miriam Pell Schmerler helped in the Jewish Publication Society’s historic efforts in the late 1950s and early 1960s to produce an historically accurate translation of the Old Testament incorporating modern archeological findings and Biblical scholarship.
When was the last time you exalted? Or even used the word “ exalt?” This is the most beautiful and sophisticated poetry I have ever read in any language. Reading these words causes me to exalt. Learning the musical notes is hard sledding.
How should I begin?
Ancient Eastern wisdom suggests one should begin as one would proceed. My goal here is to invoke in you the sense of beauty and awe the prophet Isaiah invokes in me as I prepare to read/chant it at my new and wonderful synagogue Congregation Ohev Shalom ( lover of peace) here in my new home of Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
In February, I moved here as a refugee from Addison Court, a de facto nursing home in State College. For over 10 years, this was the view from my apartment.
[Editorial note: In the course of producing this posting, I must use multiple computers for reasons Marshall McLuhan might understand. As a result, it is easier for me “publish” this now with the firm intention of returning and completing. Hurry back, now, hear.]
1. Haftorah. Wikipedia:
“The haftarah or (in Ashkenazic pronunciation) haftorah (alt. haphtara, Hebrew: הפטרה; “parting,” “taking leave”), (plural haftoros or haftorot) is a series of selections from the books of Nevi’im (“Prophets”) of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) that is publicly read in synagogue as part of Jewish religious practice.
“The Haftarah reading follows the Torah reading on each Sabbath and on Jewish festivals and fast days. Typically, the haftarah is thematically linked to the parasha (Torah Portion) that precedes it. The haftarah is sung in a chant (known as “trope” in Yiddish or “Cantillation” in English). Related blessings precede and follow the Haftarah reading.”
My reading/chanting from Isaiah follows a reading from Deuteronomy, the last of the five Books of Moses.