This beloved American memoir is about a farm and its people, recollections of a boyhood in Wisconsin's Driftless region. Ben Logan grew up on Seldom Seen Farm with his three brothers, father, mother, and hired hand Lyle. The boys discussed and argued and joked over the events around their farm, marked the seasons by the demands of the land, and tested each other and themselves.
Joe Thorndike was managing editor of Life at the height of its popularity immediately following World War II. He was the founder of American Heritage and Horizon magazines, the author of three books, and the editor of a dozen more. But at age 92, in the space of six months he stopped reading or writing or carrying on detailed conversations. He could no longer tell time or make a phone call. He was convinced that the governor of Massachusetts had come to visit and was in the refrigerator.
Five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, and like many of them, Joe Thorndike’s one great desire was to remain in his own house. To honor his wish, his son John left his own home and moved into his father’s upstairs bedroom on Cape Cod. For a year, in a house filled with file cabinets, photos, and letters, John explored his father’s mind, his parents’ divorce, and his mother’s secrets. The Last of His Mind is the bittersweet account of a son’s final year with his father, and a candid portrait of an implacable disease.
It’s the ordeal of Alzheimer’s that draws father and son close, closer than they have been since John was a boy. At the end, when Joe’s heart stops beating, John’s hand is on his chest, and a story of painful decline has become a portrait of deep family ties, caregiving, and love.
Lessons in Laughter
Bernard Bragg Gallaudet University Press, 1989 Library of Congress PN2287.B6827A3 1989 | Dewey Decimal 792.028092
To succeed as an actor is a rare feat. To succeed as a deaf actor is nothing short of amazing. Lessons in Laughter is the story of Bernard Bragg and his astonishing lifelong achievements in the performing arts.
Born deaf of deaf parents, Bernard Bragg has won international renown as an actor, director, playwright, and lecturer. Lessons in Laughter recounts in stories that are humorous, painful, touching, and outrageous, the growth of his dream of using the beauty of sign language to act. He starred in his own television show “The Quiet Man,” helped found The National Theatre of the Deaf, and traveled worldwide to teach his acting methods.
Theodore Dreiser led a long and controversial life, almost always pursuing some serious question, and not rarely pursuing women. This collection, the second volume of Dreiser correspondence to be published by the University of Illinois Press, gathers previously unpublished letters Dreiser wrote to women between 1893 and 1945, many of them showing personal feelings Dreiser revealed nowhere else. Here he both preens and mocks himself, natters and scolds, relates his jaunts with Mencken and his skirmishes with editors and publishers. He admits his worries, bemoans his longings, and self-consciously embarks on love letters that are unafraid to smolder and flame. To one reader he sends “Kisses, Kisses, Kisses, for your sweety mouth” and urges his needy requests: “Write me a love-letter Honey girl.” Alongside such amorous play, he often expressed his deepest feelings on philosophical, religious, and social issues that characterize his public writing.
Chronologically arranged and meticulously edited by Thomas P. Riggio, these letters reveal how wide and deep Dreiser’s needs were. Dreiser often discussed his writing in his letters to women friends, telling them what he wanted to do, where he thought he succeeded and failed, and seeking approval or criticism. By turns seductive, candid, coy, and informative, these letters provide an intimate view of a master writer who knew exactly what he was after.
Life of Henry David Thoreau
Henry S. SaltEdited by George Hendrick, Willene Hendrick, and Fritz Oehlschlaeger University of Illinois Press, 1993 Library of Congress PS3053.S3 1993 | Dewey Decimal 818.309
No Englishman did more in the nineteenth century to advance the literary reputation of Henry David Thoreau than Henry S. Salt. A biographer and literary critic as well as a remarkable reformer who participated broadly in his era's movements for social change, Salt abandoned his mastership at Eton in the 1880s to devote himself to causes including socialism, vegetarianism, animals' rights, conservation, and prison reform.
In 1890 Salt published the initial version of Thoreau's Life. With the help of American friends, he revised the book and published it anew six years later. The present volume is the third version of the biography, completed in 1908 but never published in Salt's lifetime.
Combining a concise narrative of Thoreau's life with a perceptive treatment of his ideas and writings, it stands as a penetrating study of Thoreau, stressing his distinctive individuality. Through an astute analysis of the text and a concise biography, the editors illustrate Salt's growth as a scholar and his changing views on Thoreau and Thoreau's philosophy.
Ellen Tucker Emerson's biography of her mother, Lidian Jackson Emerson, provides important insights into the life of Ralph Waldo Emerson's wife of 46 years. Delores Bird Carpenter has carefully edited this narrative to enhance continuity and to ensure completeness.
This book begins the first multi-volume biography of Samuel Clemens to appear in over a century. In the succeeding years, Clemens biographers have either tailored their narratives to fit the parameters of a single volume or focused on a particular period or aspect of Clemens’s life, because the whole of that epic life cannot be compressed into a single volume. In The Life of Mark Twain, Gary Scharnhorst has chosen to write a complete biography plotted from beginning to end, from a single point of view, on an expansive canvas.
With dozens of Mark Twain biographies available, what is left unsaid? On average, a hundred Clemens letters and a couple of Clemens interviews surface every year. Scharnhorst has located documents relevant to Clemens’s life in Missouri, along the Mississippi River, and in the West, including some which have been presumed lost. Over three volumes, Scharnhorst elucidates the life of arguably the greatest American writer and reveals the alchemy of his gifted imagination.
The second volume of Gary Scharnhorst’s three-volume biography chronicles the life of Samuel Langhorne Clemens between his move with his family from Buffalo to Elmira (and then Hartford) in spring 1871 and their departure from Hartford for Europe in mid-1891.
During this time he wrote and published some of his best-known works, including Roughing It, The Gilded Age, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Tramp Abroad, The Prince and the Pauper, Life on the Mississippi,Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
Significant events include his trips to England (1872–73) and Bermuda (1877); the controversy over his Whittier Birthday Speech in December 1877; his 1878–79 Wanderjahr on the continent; his 1882 tour of the Mississippi valley; his 1884–85 reading tour with George Washington Cable; his relationships with his publishers (Elisha Bliss, James R. Osgood, Andrew Chatto, and Charles L. Webster); the death of his son, Langdon, and the births and childhoods of his daughters Susy, Clara, and Jean; as well as the several lawsuits and personal feuds in which he was involved. During these years, too, Clemens expressed his views on racial and gender equality and turned to political mugwumpery; supported the presidential campaigns of Grover Cleveland; advocated for labor rights, international copyright, and revolution in Russia; founded his own publishing firm; and befriended former president Ulysses S. Grant, supervising the publication of Grant’s Memoirs.
The Life of Mark Twain is the first multi-volume biography of Samuel Clemens to appear in more than a century and has already been hailed as the definitive Twain biography.
Acclaimed as one of the great Lincoln scholars, Wayne C. Temple offers the long-awaited first biography of Noah Brooks, the influential Illinois journalist who championed Abraham Lincoln in state politics and became his almost daily companion during the Civil War. Best remembered as one of the president's few true intimates, Brooks was also a nationally recognized man of letters who mingled with the likes of Mark Twain and Bret Harte. Temple draws on archives and papers long thought lost to re-create Brooks's colorful life and relationship with Lincoln. Brooks's closeness to the president made him privy to Lincoln's thoughts on everything from literature to spirituality. Their frank conversations contributed to the wealth of journalism and personal observations that still make Brooks a much-quoted source for biographers, historians, and Lincoln aficionados. A grand history and unparalleled scholarly resource, Lincoln's Confidant is the story of an extraordinary friendship by one of the giants of Lincoln scholarship.
The history of Cincinnati runs much deeper than the stories of hogs that once roamed downtown streets. In addition to hosting the nation’s first professional baseball team, the Tall Stacks river boating, and the May Festival, there’s another side to the city—one that includes some of the most famous names and organizations in American letters.
Literary Cincinnatifills in this missing chapter, taking the reader on a joyous ride with some of the great literary personalities who have shaped life in the Queen City. Meet the young Samuel Clemens working in a local print shop, Fanny Trollope struggling to open her bizarre bazaar, Sinclair Lewis researching Babbitt, hairdresser Eliza Potter telling the secrets of her rich clientele, and many more who defined the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Queen City.
For lovers of literature everywhere—but especially in Cincinnati—this is a literary tour that will entertain, inform, and amuse.
A Literary History of Iowa
Clarence A. Andrews University of Iowa Press, 1972 Library of Congress PS283.I8A8 | Dewey Decimal 810.99777
Originally published in 1972, A Literary History of Iowa, which features writers published in book form between 1856 and the late 1960s, returns to print. One of Iowa's native sons, Ellis Parker Butler, once said that in Iowa 12 dollars were spent for fertilizer each time a dollar was spent for literature. Many readers will be surprised to learn from this book the extent of Iowa's distinguished literary past---the many prizes and praise received by her authors. To those already familiar with Iowa's credits, A Literary History of Iowa will be a nostalgic and informative delight. During the 1920s and 1930s, Iowa had good claim to recognition as the literary capital of the country. Clarence Andrews says that as he grew up he knew a host of Iowa writers. "I also knew that Iowa was winning a diproportionate share of the Pulitzer Prizes---Hamlin Garland, Margaret Wilson, Susan Glaspell, Frank Luther Mott, "Ding" Darling, Clark Mollenhoff. It was winning its share or more of prizes offered by publishers---and its authors' books were being selected as Book-of-the-Month and Literary Guild books. I knew too about Carl Van Vechten as part of that avant-garde group of midwest exiles---including Fitzgerald, Anderson, and Hemingway."A Literary History of Iowa looks at Iowans who knew and cared for the state---people who wrote poetry, plays, musical plays, novels, and short stories about Iowa subjects, Iowa ideas, Iowa people. These writers often have dealt with such themes as the state's history, the rise of technology and its impact on the community, provincialism and exploitation, the problems of personal adjustment, and the family and the community. John T. Frederick, whose own books are paramount in Iowa's literary history, has pointed to Iowa's special contributions to the literature of rural life in saying that no other state can show its portrayal in "fiction so rich, so varied, and so generally sound as can Iowa."
This collection captures the sense—at times the ordeal—of the 1930s literary experience in America. Fourteen essayists deal with the experience of being a writer in a time of overwhelming economic depression and political ferment, and thereby illuminate the social, political, intellectual, and aesthetic problems and pressures that characterized the experience of American writers and influenced their works.
The essays, as a group, constitute a reevaluation of the American literature of the 1930s. At the same time they support and reinforce certain assumptions about the decade of the Great Depression—that it was grim, desperate, a time when dreams died and poverty became something other than genteel—they challenge other assumptions, chief among them in the notion that 1930s literature was uniform in content, drab in style, anti-formalist, and always political or sociological in nature. They leave us with an impression that there was variety in American writing of the 1930s and a convincing argument that the decade was not a retreat from the modernism of the 1920s. Rather it was a transitional period in which literary modernism was very much an issue and a force that bore imaginative fruit.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1869-1935) was one of the leading intellectuals of the American women's movement in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Moving beyond the struggle for suffrage, Gilman confronted an even larger problem—economic and social discrimination against women. Her book, Women and Economics, published in 1898, was repeatedly printed and translated into seven languages. She was a tireless traveler, lecturer, and writer and is perhaps best known for her dramatic short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper." Gilman's autobiography gives us access to the life of a remarkable and courageous woman.
Originally published in 1935, soon after Gilman's death, The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman has been out of print for several years. This edition includes a new introduction by Gilman's noted biographer, Anne J. Lane.
Everyone knows Jack London for his tales of adventure in Alaska and the Canadian Yukon. With his work translated into more than 100 languages, London is one of the most popular American writers in the world, alongside Mark Twain. Yet for the reader tackling The Call of the Wild or White Fang, or perhaps his most often-anthologized short story “To Build a Fire,” many misconceptions about his life confuse his legacy.
London in His Own Time is based on Jeanne Reesman’s nearly thirty-five years of archival research. The book offers surprising perspectives on Jack London’s many sides by family, friends, fellow struggling young writers, business associates, high school and college classmates, interviewers, editors, coauthors, visitors to his Sonoma Valley Beauty Ranch in Glen Ellen, California, and more.
People who have commented on and discussed the mercurial genius include Joseph Conrad, Theodore Dreiser, Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis, Ambrose Bierce, and Mary Austin, as well as his half-sister, Eliza London Shepard, and his first wife, Elizabeth Bess “Bessie” Maddern London. There are a few Klondike pals he kept in touch with, and some fellow writers such as Cloudesley Johns, but many of those closest to him truly demonstrate his wide range of friends: barman Johnny Heinold; his second wife, Charmian, whom he called “Mate Woman”; his daughters, Joan and Becky; his lover, Anna Strunsky; his closest friends, especially the poet George Sterling; his former crewmate on the Snark, Martin Johnson; and his valet/memoirist, Yoshimatsu Nakata. Reesman also includes dozens of entries from Bay-area socialists, friends in Hawai’i and the South Seas, fellow war correspondents, neighbors like Luther Burbank, and his long-time editor at Macmillan, George Brett.
A Long Way From Home
Jarrett, Gene A Rutgers University Press, 2007 Library of Congress PS3525.A24785Z46 2007 | Dewey Decimal 818.5209
Claude McKay (1889–1948) was one of the most prolific and sophisticated African American writers of the early twentieth century. A Jamaican-born author of poetry, short stories, novels, and nonfiction, McKay has often been associated with the “New Negro” or Harlem Renaissance, a movement of African American art, culture, and intellectualism between World War I and the Great Depression. But his relationship to the movement was complex. Literally absent from Harlem during that period, he devoted most of his time to traveling through Europe, Russia, and Africa during the 1920s and 1930s. His active participation in Communist groups and the radical Left also encouraged certain opinions on race and class that strained his relationship to the Harlem Renaissance and its black intelligentsia. In his 1937 autobiography, A Long Way from Home, McKay explains what it means to be a black “rebel sojourner” and presents one of the first unflattering, yet informative, exposés of the Harlem Renaissance. Reprinted here with a critical introduction by Gene Andrew Jarrett, this book will challenge readers to rethink McKay’s articulation of identity, art, race, and politics and situate these topics in terms of his oeuvre and his literary contemporaries between the world wars.
On August 21, 1978, a year before his seventieth birthday, Samuel Steward (1909–93) sat down at his typewriter in Berkeley, California, and began to compose a remarkable autobiography. No one but his closest friends knew the many different identities he had performed during his life: as Samuel Steward, he had been a popular university professor of English; as Phil Sparrow, an accomplished tattoo artist; as Ward Stames, John McAndrews, and Donald Bishop, a prolific essayist in the first European gay magazines; as Phil Andros, the author of a series of popular pornographic gay novels during the 1960s and 1970s. Steward had also moved in the circles of Gertrude Stein, Thornton Wilder, and Alfred Kinsey, among many other notable figures of the twentieth century. And, as a compulsive record keeper, he had maintained a meticulous card-file index throughout his life that documented his 4,500 sexual encounters with more than 800 men.
The story of this life would undoubtedly have been a sensation if it had reached publication. But after finishing a 110,000-word draft in 1979, Steward lost interest in the project and subsequently published only a slim volume of selections from his manuscript.
In The Lost Autobiography of Samuel Steward, Jeremy Mulderig has integrated Steward’s truncated published text with the text of the original manuscript to create the first extended version of Steward’s autobiography to appear in print—the first sensational, fascinating, and ultimately enlightening story of his many lives told in his own words. The product of a rigorous line-by-line comparison of these two sources and a thoughtful editing of their contents, Mulderig’s thoroughly annotated text is more complete and coherent than either source alone while also remaining faithful to Steward’s style and voice, to his engaging self-deprecation and his droll sense of humor. Compellingly readable and often unexpectedly funny, this newly discovered story of a gay life full of wildly improbable—but nonetheless true—events is destined to become a landmark queer autobiography from the twentieth century.
"It works, we're in business, yeah Babe!" So begins this remarkable selection from a forty-year correspondence between two artists who survived their time as wives in the Beat bohemia of the 1960s and went on to successful artistic careers of their own.
From their first meeting in 1960, writer Hettie Jones—then married to LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka)—and painter and sculptor Helene Dorn (1927–2004), wife of poet Ed Dorn, found in each other more than friendship. They were each other's confidant, emotional support, and unflagging partner through difficulties, defeats, and victories, from surviving divorce and struggling as single mothers, to finding artistic success in their own right.
Revealing the intimacy of lifelong friends, these letters tell two stories from the shared point of view of women who refused to go along with society’s expectations. Jones frames her and Helene's story, adding details and explanations while filling in gaps in the narrative. As she writes, "we'd fled the norm for women then, because to live it would have been a kind of death."
Apart from these two personal stories, there are, as well, reports from the battlegrounds of women's rights and tenant's rights, reflections on marriage and motherhood, and contemplation of the past to which these two had remained irrevocably connected. Prominent figures such as Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary appear as well, making Love, H an important addition to literature on the Beats.
Above all, this book is a record of the changing lives of women artists as the twentieth century became the twenty-first, and what it has meant for women considering such a life today. It's worth a try, Jones and Dorn show us, offering their lives as proof that it can be done.