Friday, June 11, 2010

Yaddo: an artists' vilage in Saratoga Springs

One summer day in 1899, a private banker named Spencer Trask and his wife Katrina were walking through the expensive wildwood of their big country estate, Yaddo, at Saratoga Springs, N. Y. Suddenly Katrina stopped, listened, raised her hands "as if in appeal to that Something which was too vast for me to define." Few moments later she said with dreamy excitement: "Here will be a perpetual series of house parties—of literary men, literary women, and other artists. . . . At Yaddo they will find the Sacred Fire, and light their torches at its flame. Look, Spencer! They are walking in the woods, wandering in the garden, sitting under the pine trees . . . creating, creating, creating!"
Creating at Yaddo last week, at mid-season of the colony's twelfth year, was a typical group of writers and artists who have given substance to Katrina Trask's vision. But whether or not they fitted Katrina's romantic conception was an open question.
By contrast with aristocratic Katrina and the elegant capitalistic surroundings she provided, most of the season's 27 guests stood out in striking left-wing contrast: Poet Kenneth Fearing (Angel Arms, Poems), Critic Newton Arvin (Hawthorne), Novelists Joseph Vogel (At Madame Bonnard's), Leonard Ehrlich (God's Angry Man), Henry Roth (Call It Sleep), Daniel Fuchs (Low Company).
Monday, Sep. 05, 1938
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