Edith Wharton's Journey (radio)

Edith Wharton's Journey (radio)

Edith Wharton’s Journey is a program from the American radio anthology series Radio Tales. The anthology series adapted classic works of American and world literature for the radio. The series was a recipient of numerous awards, including four Gracie Allen Awards from the Foundation of American Women in Radio and Television (in 2004, [ [http://www.awrt.org/press-releases/2004/Press_Release_%20Announce_Winners.pdf "AWRT Press Release"] AWRT.org. Accessed March 21, 2008] 2003, [ [http://www.npr.org/about/press/030402.gracie.html "NPR Productions Win Gracie Allen Awards"] NPR.org. Accessed March 21, 2008] 2001, [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20011126020253/www.awrt.org/awards/2000GracieWinners.html "2001 Gracie Allen Award Winners"] AWRT.org, as indexed by the Internet Archive at Archive.org. Accessed March 21, 2008] and 1998, [Hear Here: "Tales by American Masters". AudioFile Magazine, pg. 8, Feb/March 1999, Vol. 7, No. 5.] ) a New York Festivals WorldMedal, [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20050207122048/http://www.newyorkfestivals.com/res/pdf/2004RPwinners.pdf "2004 Winners, Radio Programming and Promotion, New York Festivals"] NewYorkFestivals.com, as indexed by the Internet Archive at Archive.org. Accessed March 21, 2008] and a Golden Reel Merit Award. [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20010802161539/www.nfcb.org/2001reelsinfo.html "NFCB Announces 2001 Golden Reel Award Winners"] NFCB.org, as indexed by the Internet Archive at Archive.org. Accessed March 21, 2008] The “Edith Wharton’s Journey" program from the Radio Tales series was an adaptation of the classic short story “A Journey” by Edith Wharton.

Broadcast History

The Radio Tales production of “Edith Wharton’s Journey” was first broadcast via NPR on December 24, 1996. [National Public Radio: "NPR Quarterly Edition Winter 2000". NPR Marketing, Jan. - March 2000, Vol. VI, No. I] The program encompassed one half-hour installment that was distributed to NPR member stations as part of the NPR Playhouse cultural series. Since November 28th, 2002, the entire Radio Tales series has aired in reruns on the Sonic Theater channel (163) of the XM Satellite Radio service. [ [http://www.xmradio.com/onxm/features/sonictheater.xmc "Sonic Theater"] XMRadio.com. Accessed May 22, 2008.] The “Edith Wharton’s Journey” program debuted on XM Satellite Radio on August 23, 2003.

Production Information

The program was produced and script edited by series producer Winnie Waldron, who also served as the on-air host. [ [http://www.winifredphillips.com/wp_bio.html "Winifred Phillips Official Site: Biography"] Winifredphillips.com. Accessed May 19, 2008.] Composer Winifred Phillips created over twenty-eight minutes of music for the program, and also performed as the featured actress. [ [http://www.mninter.net/~jstearns/nprPH.html#top "NPR Playhouse - January - March, 2001"] MNinter.net. Accessed March 21, 2008.] “Edith Wharton’s Journey” was part of the fifth year of Radio Tales on NPR Playhouse. [National Public Radio: "NPR Quarterly Edition Winter 2000". NPR Marketing, Jan. - March 2000, Vol. VI, No. I]


The Radio Tales production of “Edith Wharton’s Journey” has been available in numerous formats and venues, including burn-on-demand CDs manufactured and distributed by MP3.com [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20031129193548/artists.mp3s.com/artists/33/npr_radio_tales.html "MP3.com: Radio Tales"] MP3.com, as indexed by the Internet Archive at Archive.org. Accessed July 15, 2008] and Ampcast.com. [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20060212003627/http://www.ampcast.com/music/25229/artist.php "Ampcast.com: Radio Tales"] Ampcast.com, as indexed by the Internet Archive at Archive.org. Accessed July 15, 2008] Beginning in 2005, programs from the series, including the “Edith Wharton’s Journey” program, have been available for download via the Audioville.co.uk web site. [ [http://www.audioville.co.uk/store/view.php?Id=530&ProductCategoryId=59 "audioVille | Stor>>Fiction | Radio Tales | Download Audio Books, Podcasts and more in MP3. Comedy, Fiction, sport, news, science, drama."] Audioville.co.uk. Accessed July 19, 2008]

Opening narration

Plot Summary

The unnamed main character is a former schoolteacher whose recent marriage has been closely followed by the rapid deterioration of her husband’s health. The story begins with the main character and her husband on a train, but soon flashes back to the events leading to their journey. Almost a year ago, the newlyweds had moved to Colorado on the advice of her husband's doctors. Living so far from home, the new wife had missed her family in New York, and was dismayed as her husband’s health further declined. The incessant obligation to administer medicines and see to her husband’s many needs was a responsibility that wore away at her as time went on. Finally, when the doctors told her that they could return to New York, she'd been glad to hear that she could finally go home. They both knew it meant that he was soon to die, but they tried not to think about it.

Now, as they endure the long train ride to New York, the jarring motions of the train begin to take their toll on the sick man, compounded by the constant irritations wrought by the surrounding passengers (which include an annoyingly curious freckled child and a nosy porter). That night the young wife settles her husband into one of the curtained sleeping berths, and then slips into the berth opposite his. Some time later, she thinks that she can hear him calling her, but when she listens (trembling with anxiety) she can hear nothing. She goes back to sleep, and in the morning she goes to awaken her husband… only to find that he has died during the night.

Her initial urge to scream is halted by a fearful realization – if her husband’s death is discovered, she and her husband’s body will undoubtedly be thrust from the train at the next station. She resolves to conceal his death until they reach New York, but this concealment proves exceedingly difficult. The nosy porter continually asks when her husband will be getting up so that the berth can be folded back for the day – she convinces him to let the ‘sick man’ sleep, and then pins the curtains of the berth together so that no one can see inside. She sits in the seat next to her husband’s berth, her mind whirling with confusion and fear. She wonders, when the train reaches New York, will the people there be able to tell that her husband has been dead since the night before? Will she be able to react convincingly? Will she be able to scream? She sinks deeper into a state of dread which causes her to hallucinate – she imagines that she can see her husband’s dead face hovering in the air before her, and she struggles not to reach out and push it away. Taking a flask that her husband had packed for the trip, she swallows some of the brandy within, which helps relax her fears. She drifts to sleep, but enters at once into a nightmare in which she herself is dead and lying beside her husband – they plunge into darkness together, caught up in an inky whirlwind that carries countless souls into the darkness of death…

She jolts awake from the nightmare, leaping to her feet just in time to see that the train is arriving in New York and that everyone is gathering their things and getting ready for the train to stop at the station. The porter approaches her, and offers to help her get her husband up. She hesitates. At that moment, the car grows dark. Disoriented, she loses her balance and falls, her head striking the side of the berth where her husband’s body lies.


External Links

* [http://www.audioville.co.uk/store/view.php?Id=529&ProductCategoryId=59 Edith Wharton’s Journey Streaming Audio Samples on Audioville]
* [http://www.radiotales.com/ The Official Radio Tales® Web Site]
* [http://www.audioville.co.uk/store/view_productcategory.php?Id=59 Radio Tales Streaming Audio Samples on AudioVille]
* [http://www.xmradio.com/onxm/channelpage.xmc?ch=163 XM Satellite Radio – Information on the Sonic Theater Channel]

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