This article reconsiders the attribution to sixteen-year-old Edith Wharton of a translation of “Was [sich] die Steine Erzählen” (What the Stones Tell), by Heinrich Karl Brugsch. Over the past twenty-five years or so, scholars have unanimously concurred in this attribution, on the basis of testimony in one of the letters sent by Wharton's girlhood friend, Emelyn Washburn, to Elisina Tyler shortly after the novelist's death. According to that letter, Emelyn suggested that her friend try her hand at translating, and she and her father, rector of the church that Wharton's family attended in the 1870s, facilitated both Wharton's translation and its publication. The article points out various misreadings of the evidence in Emelyn's letter and corrects the repeated misidentification both of Brugsch and of his text in critical and biographical scholarship on Wharton. The translation itself—said to be Wharton's debut in print—is located for the first time in this article, and the obscure journal in which it was published is identified and described. The translation, as well as Brugsch's career, is culturally and historically contextualized, and the background of its publication is explored in ways that place in question Emelyn's recollections of her friend's involvement in the endeavor.

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