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The Act to Conceal a Literary Mother

Lisa Waynick
Lisa Waynick
Faculty Adviser(s)

Twentieth-century American writer Thornton Wilder believed that “if you take up the complete letters…and if you are patient and watchful you will see another plane not intended for you to see.” Through such reading of letters, he established an acquaintance with Madame de Sevigne, a noble French woman of the seventeenth century, who is renowned as one of the world’s greatest letter writers. Wilder’s infatuation with the woman and her writing style is evident in the distorted likeness of Madame de Sevigne as the Marquesa de Montemayor in his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey. While his character of Marquesa de Montemayor reveals Wilders personal and literary admiration for the French letter writer, could his act to distort Madame de Sevigne’s image conceal her as his literary surrogate mother?


I am Lisa Waynick, a Fleer student, and I chose to come to Salem College because of its rich academic heritage but even more so for Salem College’s support of female writers. My education at Salem College has been instrumental in the nurture and development of my writing skills. I have discovered the beauty and art within the written word as well as the contemplation of meaning beyond the surface. You have probably guessed by now I am an English major who will go forward and use the skills I have acquired at Salem College to one day write my own novel.