This is small selection from thousands of items of present and past reader reaction to Mary MacLane. Due to the volume of writing on this author it is by necessity somewhat scattershot but gives a sense of the amplitude of response. A selection of foreign language response is in preparation, and a full collection in all languages will be provided in the forthcoming study of published reactions to Mary MacLane, Mary in the Press: Miss MacLane and Her Fame and will be put in context in the forthcoming biography/literary analysis A Quite Unusual Intensity of Life: The Lives, Worlds, and Works of Mary MacLane.
n.b.: "The Story of Mary MacLane" was the publisher's title for MacLane's first book, which was titled in manuscript "I Await the Devil's Coming"; the manuscript title appears as a subtitle ("originally published as ... ") in Tender Darkness: A Mary MacLane Anthology (1993) and is given as the book's title in the Melville House reissue (2013) and subsequent reissues and translations.
2017 - i have received I Await The Devil's Coming for my birthday and have discovered that in my past life i was apparently Mary MacLane for she is bisexual, in love with the devil and Napoleon and clearly both deeply ambitious and arrogant and deeply scared and uncertain. #mary maclane #I Await The Devil's Coming #lit #not that i would say in love is accurate for my interest in N #but you know what i mean - @thiswaycomessomethingwicked
2017 - ♫How do you solve a problem like Mary MacLane?♫ - It's difficult to review this work because I am 100% enamored by its author. Mary was a wild poet, a bisexual feminist in the early 1900s, who lived both in the desert of Butte Montana and the hustle-bustle melting pot of New York, and did not make it to her 49th birthday. She was witty, patriotic, cynical, spiritual, sexual, and desperately lonely. And in her diary are tremendous strokes of brilliance. - Her prose vibrates, even at its most pedestrian or self-indulgent (or worst, mildly racist). And despite her fall from the zeitgeist, Mary is also supremely quotable. Mary was a radically vibrant spirit, and this book is quite the character study, warts and all. I roll my eyes when people say "I was born in the wrong decade!" But in this case ... I think Mary would have had a ball if she had been born a century later. - Zachary Littrell
2017 - MacLane has been called 'the first blogger' and I think that this is a fitting description. Her first book, 'The Story of Mary MacLane' (also known as 'I Await The Devil's Coming') reads like an introspective LiveJournal, all meandering thoughts, feelings and ruminations on her place in the world. Completely fascinating. - Whenever I pick up an old book I am regularly jarred by the contrast between my automatic assumption that it will be a difficult text and the reality of how readable and modern the thoughts and feelings of the author can be. When you look at pictures of MacLane it seems that she belongs to another world but upon reading her it feels as though she would not have been out of place whatsoever on an early blogging platform 100 years later. - Andrew Doran
2016 - I have to agree with H.L. Mencken who said, “Mary MacLane is one of the few who actually knows how to write English.” Couldn't be truer, even in today's world. How refreshing to read this sensational confessional and feel first-hand her astounding power in her words. Her strength is extraordinary. From the very beginning of her manuscript it took no time at all for me to realize I had stumbled onto something quite magnificent and meaningful. Within the first few pages it was obvious to me that Mary MacLane was far far ahead of her time. MacLane's audacity and brazen attitude even toward potential admirers of her work struck me as quite remarkable. My reading of this text only furthered my interest in learning everything I possibly could about this fascinating woman. Surely it must be unfortunate to find myself so enamored with a young woman who is destined to always refuse my love for her, a blazing fervor that will regretfully remain unrequited. - There are few young people today as sophisticated, well-read, and talented as Mary MacLane. Back when she wrote this diary there was also no guarantee her words would ever be published, or if she would have even a smidgen of an audience in which to have it read. In spite of it Mary MacLane became a star, and not due to anything resembling today's internet social media. - Much has been made of MacLane's love for the Devil. Not once did I ever feel she was evil or bad in any way. She simply did not want to be like the other women she witnessed in her life. She did not want to be kept by a man, but rather taken, for one day, in ecstasy. Her happiness would depend on each moment of wickedness, the ravaging delight discovered in all her senses, likened to her enjoyment of an occasional charcoal-grilled rare Porterhouse steak smothered with steaming onions and mushrooms. So phooey on her love for the Devil (whatever that is). She simply wanted to be alarmingly ignited and thus alive enough to feel. - M Sarki
2015: A startling and original voice - an independent spirit who consorts with the devil and writes like an angel. My students, graduate and undergraduate, thanked me. - A reader of books
2015: After reading the astounding I Await the Devil's Coming, written with the intensity of a nineteen-year-old but avoiding the expected traps of the age, you may wish to read more. It's surprising to see how much of her writing power she retained through her life, and even if she at times relied too much on certain cadences and patterns, she always wrote from her heart. - Kirk D. Johnson
2013 - After I while I wondered where the genius was. The writing is strong, the sentiment is poetically wrought, but it all felt too narcissistic. Then, reading more, I changed my mind. I found myself in a dialogue with this 19 year old from the turn of the 1900s. I kept putting down the book and talking to her. I keep thinking. She engaged me, and I wanted to engage her right back. - She sought love over 100 years ago, and found it, I think, in her readership. Most likely read for the voyeurism, the unique view of a woman unseen publicly in those times. But there must have been others, like me, who wanted to connect, who did connect, and, more than that, whose intellectual imagination was kindled. - Not much happens in the book. There are few interactions other than the author's with herself. Yet, through the confessions of boredom is an excitement of discovery for this once-famous woman now mostly forgotten. Some have seen a parallel with MacLane and the Internet culture of look-at-me Twitter/Instagram/Facebook/Tumblr/Blog feeds, the first of the exhibitionist memoirists. There's that, sure, but more. Few of those modern examples spark more than superficial conversation, shallowly buried in the churning cycle of online content. Mary MacLane resonates, and I hope others will, unknowingly for now, find themselves awaiting her coming. - Peter Landau
2013 - [I Await the Devil's Coming is a] fascinating look into a fiercely brilliant mind. She is brutally honest about herself, spouting her innermost thoughts in an angry whirlwind of words. So far ahead of her time. - Monika
2013 - I would loved to have met her; I've got a little of the Devil in me. - James Byrne Reed
2013 - Also, re. the olive passage [in I Await the Devil's Coming]. Who knew Mary MacLane invented #foodporn in 1902? - @InOrderOfImport
2013 - Mary MacLane: The original Riot Grrrl - If you consider yourself a feminist; if you like raw, dark, beautiful, elegiac prose steeped in loneliness, nihilism, frustration and despair, then you should definitely read I Await The Devil's Coming by Mary MacLane. It's incredible. - If I lived in Butte, Montana in 1902 I would definitely have fallen madly in love with Mary MacLane. As it is, I found myself falling in love with her ghost. And I hope others do too, because she's a brilliant young voice that needs to be rediscovered. She, "of womankind and nineteen years" with a "fine young body that is feminine in every fiber!" She was also "punk as fuck" before that was even a thing. - Luke
2012 - Fascinating lady. Mary Maclane was an emo chick WAY before it was cool. I enjoyed her book on many levels. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in people who were ahead of their time and suffered emotionally because of it. - Geznak
2011 - One of the Most Rebellious American Voices. Stylistically, she's amazing for a nineteen year old. She's an incredibly clever girl and she knows it. She comments on Butte and its environment, people and things. She's frankly bisexual, she's in love with Napoleon and the Devil, though that might be a pose to shock but at the same time it adds a strange element of mystery to her work. At times there is a dark humor here which creates the book's modern vibe. She has Antonin Artaud's screech of misery which is the same reason it's as hard to read her as it is to read Artaud. - Thomas Crapaud
2010 - A new favorite. The entire time I was reading The Story of Mary MacLane, I was thinking, I cannot wait to read this again. I would recommend keeping this book at your bedside, like a motel bible, so that it can be referred throughout your days. A fascinating woman and a fascinating book. The fact that she wrote this at 19 is astounding. Mary MacLane deserves greater attention as a great feminist mind, but also as a skilled, witty writer. This is a wonderful book. - Liz
2010 - [My Friend Annabel Lee consists of] conversations with, monologues by, and reflections on, the enigmatic Annabel Lee. Reads, in places, almost like an intellectual A.A. Milne, but it's still 100% vintage MacLane. - Bri Fidelity
The lady in question is a reformer and speaks in metaphor. She frowned upon the artificial life and gave truth. Indeed, many people are but a rabble, if you look at them from the side of truth.
It is her sacred duty to correct errors. Miss MacLane no doubt hates the so-called “nice” young men, who, in reality, belong to the reform school and who, to all outside appearance, are noble, but who, in fact, are a sham and only soap bubbles. Their spiritual and soul nature is as coarse and oft times like a cactus towards a violet, yet they may dress in fine clothes and hold good positions in the business or the political world. These young men may learn the lesson of truth and honor from this young lady.
Is it not better to have the nerve to tell the truth than to have the gall to lie and fake? Her face is that of a splendidly balanced, refined teacher, an outspoken combative reformer, with a sense of love, justice, honor, truth, splendidly blended. It is a strong face for one so young.
If Butte had about 50 ladies like Miss MacLane it would then only need half of her police force, because ladies of her type are true reformers, and while for the time being they may place people on nettles, yet after a pause the people will feel a wholesome, healthy benefit from all such so-called egotists.
- Alexis Constantin Carl Pfuhl
The letters invited by The World's Sunday Magazine in response to the question, "What do you think of Mary MacLane?" continue to arrive in numbers so large that it is impossible to publish more than a small part of them. In order to afford as large a numerical representation to the writers as possible it has been decided to select a few lines from the most significant of the letters rather than to publish any of them in full.
A correspondent who signs himself "The Devil" and gives his address as No. 176 Greenwich street, New York, says: "Seriously, I think, as do all the other immortals, that she is the most unique and original production the world has ever known. Her intelligence is undeniable; her ability as a writer is beyond question; her sincerity indisputable; and her goodness and level- headedness must be admitted by her most severe critics. This - not from a paternal viewpoint altogether, but from one who has been a closer observer of human nature since time was."
Agnes Mac, of Gloversville, N.Y., writes: "My mental study of Mary MacLane resolves itself into the conviction that she is by no means a genius. But she is a very bright young woman, just clever enough to come before the public for a short time and goodly-sized remuneration, particularly the remuneration, as a newly discovered eccentric to any degree desired by the promoter of the idea, providing his figures are large enough."
W.F. Williams, Brooklyn, N.Y. - "There are some weaknesses even in geniuses when they must resort to such stock expressions as the following, taken from Mary MacLane's article: 'feminine persuasion' (coarse and flat); 'durance vile' (worn out); 'that is the limit' (slang); 'the world, the flesh, and the devil' (hackneyed); 'incongruity' (much abused in this article); 'side by each' (too new for the average reader); 'it's hell - just hell - to know sometimes' (entirely out of place for the purpose intended)."
W.D.L., Ottawa, Ont. - "Think of the desperate trash this young lady is giving you about the cobblestones of Wall street and the brokers who 'mourn, mourn, mourn always and unconscious [why unconsciously? Unconscious mourning must be about the most comfortable kind] for what is not theirs.' What is it all but voluntary hysteria, good neither for her who gives it nor for those who receive it? Cut it out."
David Bunthorn, Philadelphia (No. 552 North Eleventh street) - "In years to come her style of writing will be much sought after. I think she is deep. She has a wonderful brain. She sees just what other people see, but they can't express it."
Mrs. E.B. Halley, New York (No. 223 West Twenty-first street) - "Because a thing is called 'good' is the author a genius? No, I will leave Rousseau his laurels and not one shall I beg or borrow for this young woman, though we thank The World for the opportunity to make her acquaintance thus intimately."
George D. Wiggins, Chicago - "She is a poet of nature, rarely gifted - a genius, if you prefer the term; and if she is true to herself, and lives, the world will hear from her, and her name will be enrolled among the great writers of the age."
Edith Talbot, N.Y. - "Genius she has, and when she realizes that all human beings, in whatever state of society they exist, are here as a result of the divine plan, that they are, collectively speaking, all tending upward, then indeed will her works win fame and love for their author."
P.M. Annan, New York - "She is very realistic in her grasp of character and fearless to express what she thinks and feels. To scenic descriptions she lends a cultivated and poetic mind which delights the reader, and can thrill us with sombre and gruesome thought. Now and then, and not infrequently, she falls to a nondescript flatness, and by repetition and emphasis insists upon our calling it 'fine.' Mary MacLane may be a star in the firmament of letters, but she will never stand alone and apart from her compeers."
Nora O'Connor Meder, Louisville, Ky. - "Mary MacLane is indeed an unusual woman for her years. She is of the erratic type, though, and her fame will be short-lived."
Lillian H. Mortimer, New York - "In my estimation, The Story of Mary MacLane - by Herself was written by a man, and the appearance on the scene from Butte-Montana of the extremely pretty young person who is supposed to be the authoress is all part of a tremendous advertising scheme."
Albert Wyman, Williamsbridge, N.Y. - "Mary MacLane! It's a name to conjure with - a name that captures my young man's fancy, because it is the name of a young woman who is not so bad as she would have us believe, who is wholesome, sound, and a Philistine - an American young woman, and therefore a genius. She is all she claims to be."
B. Dean Bailey, Johnstown, Pa. - "She has struck the keynote in her impressions of the 'mysterious East.' She has the qualities which are earning for her an enduring fame. She is a genius."
Mae Blackwell Murphy, New York (No. 232 West Fifty-first street) - "With all due respect to Mary MacLane, I think she is further from being a genius than she is from Butte-Montana. Her writings are neither bright nor humorous, although she makes an attempt at both. Her repetitions are wearisome, and somehow she fails to convey her ideas in the manner she seems to aim for."
Owen Kildare, New York (No. 45 Bowery) - "It is heart, or at least the pretense at one, that you want, Mary MacLane. You say you are a genius. Well, we only have your word for it, and although some men are foolish enough to take the word of a woman, I must refuse to accept your statement as conclusive proof."
Mrs. James Drilly, Rockville, Conn. - "I do not think her a genius nor do I see anything but what excites my deepest contempt. This world of ours I consider a very fair world, and I cannot look upon human beings in the light that she does."
Johanna Ross, Montgomery, Ala. - "She is not a genius, although very smart, as she has touched the weak spot of a certain class who are continually on the lookout for anything sensational. Her principal talent is repetition."
O.H. Bird, M.D., New York (No. 312 East Nineteenth Street) - "In general I rate her as a writer whose work is scarcely worth reading just now. If her style results from arrogance and self-conceit she will probably never be much better. If from immaturity, and she is humble-minded enough to sit at the feet of really great writers, she may be, in a decade or two, write something of real worth."
Enclosed please find $1.50 for Mary MacLane's book. I am sending for Mary's book because I want some young ladies to read it, and because I foretell its suppression and trouble just as I did for Kidder's Virgin Mary.
I'm pleased with Dr. Wilson's review of Mary MacLane. I am not surprised at her freaky ways. I remember that, at 16, I was just as wild to write up society's hellishness as I saw it cornering young girls.
Every generation produces women iconoclasts from the second century on until now. Records give dates of so many great women between the years 150 and 1600. Think of the grand Mary Wallstonecraft's vindication of the rights of women in 1792, and on and on to our own grand and good Josephine K. Henry. Mary MacLane is a type of a many would-be iconoclasts who despise the frauds in society - its cursed make-believes; yet she will be hated, and will, if she lives get into trouble over being candid in exposing the would-be lords and ladies.
It's the way she will be developed into a thinker and real power in free-thought work, if brought into organized departments. Get her on your staff of writers, encourage her independent, though wild, style. It will help you to get the million subscribers. And, as she is experienced in the hellishness at the hands of others, as we have, and thus our eyes are opened and we are in the fight for freedom to the race, so sooner will be.
- H.M. Lyndall
Echoes of Mary MacLane - More Letters from World Readers
The articles by Mary MacLane recently printed in The World's Sunday Magazine have aroused more attention and provoked more discussion than any feature in a similar publication in recent years. Although it is four weeks since the last article was published, letters are still arriving in extraordinary numbers from readers of the magazine giving their opinions of her work and capabilities and her promise of future success.
It is an indication not only of the great interest which Miss MacLane has inspired but of the remarkable scope of the Sunday World's circulation that these letters are coming from every part of the United States and even from Canada and other countries.
The following letters have been selected for publication.
David Dalziel, Pavilion Mills, British Columbia - In my opinion Mary MacLane wants to tell the world something, but she does not know what that something is. What she lacks is learning, experience and years. In twenty years more she will find herself out and will understand what she wants to say, and will say it. - I know what she wants to tell us. She wants to say that the world is not doing so well as it should do, and she wants to point out wherein it errs. Mary MacLane is a specimen of what will be common two, three, four, five, six, seven, ten or twelve thousand years from now - a sort of perfect soul. Now she is out of place. She is an "incongruity." She can do lots of good if she goes at it in the right way. I say let her preach away. There are many things that the world should know which only she or the like of her can tell.
R.C. Mills, Louis, Okla. - What do I think of Mary MacLane? - If she were given a divided skirt and placed astride a horse, and could get George Ade to follow in her wake upon a donkey, she would make a modern Don Quixote. - If she "succeeds in being successful," she will be a genius - if not, a crank.
Lily May Ivy, No. 136 West Sixty-Second Street, New York - I have waited patiently to find some woman who agreed with me as to the genius of Mary MacLane. I am still waiting. Surely there is one somewhere, for I cannot think that I am all alone in my opinion. That would stamp me as being oddly different, and I know I am just like all the others. - I do not envy Mary MacLane. The money she has earned, the popularity and public notice which have come to her, are hers by divine right. - Mary MacLane is a genius. She is a great genius, in that she recognizes herself and has had the courage to announce it. - She distinctly portrays the wail of the human heart for that something that we never possess in this world. She appeals to the tragic side of life. This is serious. To be serious is to think. To think is to look inwardly. To be able to depict what you see there is sublime. - Mary MacLane's attitude is at all times introspective, and therefore original. I cannot understand how any one can condemn her. She tells the unvarnished truth. I can see the sand and barrenness in every life with which I come in contact. The man or woman who tries to make life a comedy fails just as miserably as he who takes it tragically. There is something insurmountable, inexplicable. It is this we should all like to do. But it has never been solved yet. We may possibly know it "over there." - Mary MacLane knows her devil won't enlighten her, if she ever finds him, which of course she will. They come early to most of us. He can't take away the sand and barrenness. And she knows it. - Now that Mary MacLane is more than ever convinced of the monotony of appearances, the monotony of everywhere and the even sameness of human nature, I hope she will give us something more from her pen that will be worthy of such a brain and such a personality as she possesses.
Charles W. Patrick, Denison, Texas - Mary MacLane is a genius. She has a wonderful gift of expression, the certain mark of genius. She is a victim of introspection to the point of partial insanity. - Miss MacLane stands as the greatest sensationalist of a sensational day. Her writings contain much that is worth reading - and much that is rot. Imagine her in New York during a rainstorm. She would say, "The people are hurrying more than ever; they never rest. They are maddening; the rain is maddening. What does it all mean? What do the little raindrops say? What does the street say? The street says, 'Why do you beat me, little raindrops? Stop! Stop! Stop!" The little raindrops say, 'We will not stop; we will beat you, beat you, beat you!' The wind says, 'Stop, little raindrops, stop beating the street and me.' But the raindrops say, 'We will not stop; we will beat you, beat you, beat you.' The wind says, 'I will slip and slide and fall all over you.' But the raindrops beat, beat, beat." - Miss MacLane is a beautiful girl, nineteen years old plus, and wanting fame, so she will not mind criticism.
Adah Downing, Spokane, Wash. - Is Mary MacLane a genius? Yes. She is more. She is grandly, deliciously beautiful! And I believe she is good. She dares to tell to all the world what most people try to keep profoundly guarded. - I think she is all she claims for herself. She may be a thief, but I don't believe she steals other people's thunder, and I don't think she stole anything from the "Anemone Lady." - She may be a liar, but I don't believe her heart is wooden. - I hope she is a philosopher, for if she is she will not suffer much. - I think she is much more intense than she really knows. She has not yet found her true soul. She will find it when she finds its mate. - I love you, Mary MacLane! Not because you say you are a thief and a liar and are not afraid of the devil, but because you are yourself.
Henry Kirkner (range rider), Cokeville, Wyo. - Just a hurrah for that little desert waif, Mary MacLane, that will shatter the crags and cliffs around Cokeville, Wyo.! Those spring steel fibres back of Mary's brow work like a meteor. - A bouquet of the most beautiful tropical water lilies to Mary!
"Justitia," Roger Williams Land -
When first I read of Mary MacLane and her ideas I stamped her thoughtless, born without the finer instincts of womanhood and wholly devoid of the innate simplicity of girlhood. - On further acquaintance with her words and endeavors I have changed my mind considerably. I have come to the conclusion that Mary MacLane stands for truth and dares the courage of her convictions. The human within Mary MacLane differs not so widely from that within us all. In sincerity she has turned the searchlight on all that is despicable within the inner life of every soul. In the manner of it she is original. She stands along for a purpose, and whether it be for a tower or a pitfall, her own character, her dealing with the problems of life will determine as the days go on. - She is no more immodest or immoral than you or I, reader, through words that express inherent deeds. Deeds, not tendencies, tell the stories of the heartaches and heartbreaks that are constantly springing up before a waiting public.< - I am not prepared to say that this young woman of Butte-Montana has exercised wisdom in doing thus or so. She is but a fledgling, cramped and hedged in, and her way out from her environment is unique, to say the least. "Is she a genius?" For one of her age I should say she was gifted in ways exclusive and inclusive. I have not learned to my own satisfaction just the best between her lines, but like every other reader form conclusions and note much worthy of a place in the public mind. - This strenuous - if ever a word was used advisedly I think this is here - young woman from Montana invites comment and criticism through marked individuality and determination. Well and good. She is aggressive. Aggression turns the wheel. If Mary MacLane turns it for all that is uplifting and for the betterment of mankind, even though errors of judgment face her now and anon, her work will not be in vain. Living with her one month in close companionship would give one a better insight of her real self than the writing of all her coming years.
J.B. Burgster, Jamestown, N. Dak. - Mary MacLane is a bright young woman of the West, strongly imaginative, who possesses a strong command of language to express the whims, fancies, vagaries, and beauties of a young woman with a healthy body, firm nerves and a keen appreciation of the value of "gear" - which comes naturally from her Scotch ancestry. - She can write very interesting, chatty, personal letters for personal perusal, but for general reading there are hundreds of writers who can give her cards and spades" and beat her. - She is at times somewhat poetic, but a poet? Never! - But Mary MacLane is not of the character to produce anything of enduring fame. The veriest "hobo" can round out an oath with more dexterity, and the cheapest woman might say some things in private which she would not blazon to the world. The expectancy of something suggestive - which is not realized - makes some of her writings read. - What she says and what she believes are different, though her egotism may have led her to bare more of her actual self in her "Portrayal" than will endear her to the majority. - If she thinks and says she is a genius, then she is - to herself and some others. - But in Mary MacLane and her impressions is the fact, which may not be realized by those of the East, that "the East" to those reared in the West is "mysterious" and but little better understood than is "the West" by those of the East. The penury of the East, where a penny is more to the majority of those in humble circumstances than the dollar is here in the "Great West," the gaudy display of wealth and the unapproachable society of those who stand aloof and far off are still so strange and different compared with the West, where sincerity and frankness are either expressed or so apparent and patent to all as to need no expression! The social, political and labor conditions of the East, though known in the West, are hardly appreciated in all the intensity of the East. Mary MacLane has hinted at, in some things expressed it, at times felt it and wished to give it utterance, but seemed unable to satisfactorily. It's this fact which is largely apparent in her "Portrayal." - She has not struck a new note; possibly only "sharped" dexterously. - Poor Mary MacLane!
Best Modern Work True to Life, Says Dr. Burton
Dr. Richard Burton's third lecture at the Unitarian church last evening, on “Literature as Truth,” brought out some of the best fruit of the lecturer's ripened experience and wholesome views. He spoke in beginning of the tendency to criticize the novel and the drama as unreal, because they portray life and incident that are unfamiliar to our narrow existences. The best modern literature, he maintained, is true to life, and gives us more correct ideas than we can form by personal experience, because our view is limited, while the field of literature is world wide. Literature of to-day is far more faithful to life than it was even fifty years ago, while even the so-called realists of the eighteenth century do not always ring true.
Dr. Burton made a partial justification for Mary MacLane, saying that this young thing revealed some things which had not been seen in literature before, about the inner self of woman. She told frankly of herself what is true of many people of both sexes, that they “swear inwardly” when occasion provokes. In spite of vulgarity and lack of art, there was something in the book, while her second effort tho more artistic, was common place, and hence “no good.”
To the Editor of Collier's:
You see the position of woman has always been a peculiar one. Nobody has ever been satisfied with her since the beginning of time. In the past, axiomatic literature has labored to perfect her, and now the whole world of print is taking a hack at her. The female magazines tag at her heels, vociferous with information - how to make the home attractive, how to dress on forty dollars a year, how to give a baby a bath. Magazines, both male and female, point out to her countless short cuts to a dazzling personal pulchritude and to an encyclopedic mental development. And the whole world of print - books, magazines, newspapers - unite to unload on her a constant succession of gold-brick, get-good-quick schemes, to dole out to her a pre-chewed moral philosophy, half sloppy milk-and-water optimism, half near-altruistic pap.
Consider, for instance, the whole feminist movement of the nineteenth century - a bloodless revolution, unparalleled in history. Sporadic articles on various phases of this movement appear from time to time. But as yet nobody seems to have looked at it through anything but the small end of the opera-glass. Some of us would like to see it treated adequately, treated from its confused beginnings to its present clearly-defined development - treated from the point of view of a big sociologist - treated in the spirit of fairness with which Ray Stannard Baker treated the black man's problem for the “American Magazine.”
And then I would like to ask why none of the big women of the day is ever portrayed in the magazines except in the sugary platitudes of the professional interviewers. Take the case of Susan B. Anthony. She lived long beyond the three score and ten allotted to mankind and worked hard almost to the last moment of her life. Yet until after her death, her name was a scoff and a by-word with an ignorant many. One man I knew used it habitually as an oath. The women who lived about her knew her for a wonderful personality, untiring, unselfish, heroic, receiving the minimum of public reward for the maximum of civic service. Why did it never occur to anybody to do such portraiture of her as Lincoln Steffens, Richard Washburn Child, William Allen White, and Will Irwin have done recently for public men? Surely there's an extraordinary chance for studies in personality in a country that has produced such varying types as Julia Ward Howe, Jane Addams, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ida M. Tarbell, Edith Wharton, M. Carey Thomas, Emma Goldman, Cecilia Beaux, Mary Cassatt, Mrs. Fiske, Mary Anderson Navarro, Lilian Nordica, Emma Eames, Isadora Duncan, Mary MacLane, May Sutton, and, in her way, Hetty Green.
I'm not complaining. Like Hashimura Togo, “I ask to know.”
- An American Woman
With the man who gets drunk I can sympathize, though I was never drunk in my life. But I know what he wants. It is that elevation above the pettiness, cheapness, and commonness of the daily grind.
It is the time when the old clock strikes thirteen. It is the moment of let go and don't care.
For most of us how cramped life is! There are moods when we hate the bars of commonplace that hem us in. We loathe the dining room furniture and hall carpet. We appreciate Mary McLane's [sic.] outbreak of fury against that row of toothbrushes in the bathroom.
The kind of religion that will ultimately prevail will provide for an intoxication with righteousness. It will be a flame, but not of sensuality, as the Greek, nor blood lust, as the Aztec, but will be the raising of kindness, justice, love, altruism, and hope to a white heat.
It will be the clean fire of the Infinite.
Ever the highest cry of the soul.
I have answered [a] friend that I started out [these articles] with the idea of telling about other people. Now what he evidently wants are personal confessions and confessions, if one attempts even to approach the truth, are dangerous. Then confessions have been so well done by the amorous Jean Jacques Rousseau and by that cheerful prevaricator Benvenuto Cellini in ancient times, not to mention Mary Bashkirtseff and Mary McLane of Butte City [sic.] , Montana (read and thrill over her graphic description of her personal sensations while eating an olive) that one hesitates to adventure into this uncertain field.
Will the wise world itself give me in my outstretched hand a stone?
- Mary MacLane: Oct. 28, 1901
I hand you:
stars, nearer than ever
sewn on a warm shawl of night
the rock buttes
dipped in your dreams
to turn them green
whose pages strip you
back to the small point
your birth scream
and change it to laughter
to open your womanly lips
with the tongue of need
to hold the breast gently
a dove cupped for release
to spread your thighs
with the limber root.
Stretch out now
and take my gift.
Wherever you lie
I bring this marrow poem.
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