One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I Confused Ganna Walska with Helena Modjeska

The LA Times had a big spread on Ganna Walska (born Hanna Puacz)--a Polish opera singer (1887 - 1984)--and her garden Lotusland (Montecito, CA) a few years ago. I've not yet been to her Lotusland (every time I go to Santa Barbara the "usual" things take precedence):


Yesterday, trying to name my Mont Sainte-Victoire, I came across Modjeska Peak (one of the two peaks forming the Saddleback in Orange County) and thus Helena Modjeska (1840 - 1909).

And so, at least until today, I had made the two women one.


Helena Modjeska was born in Krakow, Poland (her birth name was Jadwiga Benda) and she was a renowned Polish Shakespearean actress who emigrated to the United States in 1876. Her home from 1888 to 1906, Arden, is located in Modjeska Canyon, CA (eastern Orange County) and is a registered National Historic Monument. Modjeska Peak is also named after her.


Wikipedia mentions that Modjeska plays a part in several literary works. The one that interested me the most (seeing how it's one of my fave stories by Willa Cather) is My Mortal Enemy. I've read that story at least three times and never once thought about looking up Modjeska (I suppose I thought her fictitious).



Ganna Walska

Lotusland (ChrisN) Pictures, Images and Photos

Lotusland Clock

Helena Modjeska (ca. 1897)
Photo by Melecjusz Dutkiewcz (1836-1897)
[From the Wikimedia Commons]

Helena Modjeska in the garden at Arden
[From the Wikimedia Commons]
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