This is small selection from thousands of items of recent and historical non-scholarly items by writers on 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.
Emily Gould - foreword to Melville House edition of I, Mary MacLane (2013)
Jessa Crispin - foreword to Melville House edition of I Await the Devil's Coming (2013)
Penelope Rosemont - introduction, ed. of Charles H. Kerr Co. edition of I Await the Devil's Coming AKA The Story of Mary MacLane with other material (1997)
Elisabeth A. Pruitt - introduction, ed. of Abernathy & Brown edition of Tender Darkness: A Mary MacLane Anthology (1994) AKA Tender Darkness: A Mary MacLane Sampler (2015)
Michael Yocum - introduction to Jonathan Cape edition of I Await the Devil's Coming AKA The Story of Mary MacLane (1981)
"As to Denver," he drawled, "it isn't so far removed from Butte, Montana. I subscribe for a weekly paper that gets here every two weeks, and I learn from that that Mary MacLane is exploring the East for The World.
"Is the young woman a genie," he asked, "or is her book a composite of thoughts that had been written before?"
It was suggested to the genial philosopher that he take the lady's word for it.
"But I can't," he said, "in view of her frank declarations of her own mendacity."
An unusual and astonishing book, "The Story of Mary MacLane, by Herself." In it there is a disclosure of self almost unknown in English literature, rivalling in its frankness and disregard of convention the confessions of Rousseau and Marie Bashkirtseff. Her narrative is unquestionably interesting, and goes far to justify her exclamation, "It is magnificent of me to have gotten so far, at the age of nineteen, with no training other than that of the sand and barrenness. Magnificent - do you hear?" But the book itself discloses, so frank is it, the reasons for her real command of language and intimate acquaintance with much of the world's best literature. An almost insistent demand for affection dominates the story. Rudely disregarding those to whom she is allied by blood as neither loving nor beloved, Miss MacLane finds her longing satisfied through her whole life by no one except her teacher in literature during her public school days, whom she names as Fanny Corbin. Some of the finest and most poetic passages of the narrative have been inspired by this real passion: "Why am I not a man,” she demands, "that I might give this wonderful, dear, delicious woman an absolutely perfect love?” Fannie Corbin must have been a teacher of extraordinary power, for the interest awakened in her pupil's youthful heart has gone out in wide fields, and covered desirable reading, far from common under any circumstances.
Miss MacLane styles herself a philosopher "of the peripatetic school” and takes a wholesome and adolescent delight in walking great distances over the barren wastes which give the town of Butte its name. Keenly observant of both man and nature, though far more sympathetic with such beautiful manifestations of grace and power as inhere in "the red streak in the sunset” and in the "gray dawn” than with such humanity as the place of her residence can boast, her entire frankness and power of expression give the book many desirable qualities. For Miss MacLane has downright feeling for words, and couples this rare gift with one equally rare, the capacity for transmuting emotion into thought. Seldom found at any age, the possession of such characteristics when not more than nineteen years old is a happy augury for the writer's future.
More unusual is the purely sensual enjoyment of food, seldom feminine, and in various places in her journal Miss MacLane describes the satisfaction gained by eating an olive, a batch of "fudges,” even beefsteak and onions, analyzing her sensations with minute particularity, and giving her readers the result.
[This book is] the most singular original work ever given the general English-reading public.
When he had hurried to his Room and rubbed himself with Witch Hazel he would tear for the House, where the living Book Review would be waiting to ask him if he didn't think that Dorothy Vernon was better than Mary MacLane. While he would be doing Foot-Work and side-stepping the Questions that were calculated to show him up as a howling Ignoramus, the Real Thing would be sitting back waiting in vain for an Opening.
"The hotels could do one of two things,” explained the Idiot. "One copy of The Emotions of Mary MacLane placed in a central position connected by flues with the rest of the house should thoroughly warm any of our caravansaries. It would act very much as the anti-imperialist newspapers do for a friend of mine up in Rye. He doesn't keep a watchdog, but leaves an opposition newspaper out on his lawn every night. It growls so constantly no tramp ever comes within a mile of his place.”
"Now we must consider style," says the chairman, and first off they all thought he meant fashions, but he didn't; he meant things like grammar and spelling, and yet not exactly those either. We've got to have somebody later on in the book that'll make things hum. Some one just as great on style, you know, but different." - The others agreed to this, and they picked out Marie Corelli and Mary MacLane, who are considered awfully stylish. Then for realism in general they took W.D. Howells, but for special realistic occurrences they chose others - like Mary Adams for tears and kisses, and Hall Caine for sad and gloomy bits.
Butte is a city built on a hill, and run wide open.
Most folks think that only two people live in Butte - W.A. Clark and Mary McLane [sic.]. This is a mistake. These two worthies are somewhat like the genus Guinea pig, which is not a pig and does not come from Guinea. Mary lives in Boston, where she has gone to complete her education, and while Senator Clark has a nice seven-room house in Butte, he is building a mansion on Fifth Avenue, New York, that is making the Vanderbilt greeny green. If he has a mansion in the skies and is laying up treasure in heaven, nobody in Butte knows it.
No one in Butte ever heard of Mary McLane until she threw a book at their heads. Not one person in a hundred there ever saw her. She was just a nice, healthy High-School girl who wrote as she felt. All girls of nineteen have feelings, and this girl described hers. The best thing in her book is the description of the tooth brushes in the family bath room. A tooth brush is personal property, even in Butte. It stands for the individual, and if you have imagination, are psychic, being given a tooth brush, you can construct the owner. Mary's book should have been called "The Psychology of a Bath Room." It was a cross-section of life, and therefore interesting.
Senator Clark and Mary McLane regard Butte as a good place to get out of - they take their tooth brushes and go.
I read that other book to the bitter end - the "Arthur Sterling" [sic. - Stirling] thing. He is the most disagreeable character in fiction, though Marie Bashkirtseff and Mary McLean in real life could give him cards and spades. Fancy a poet, or an kind of writer, whom it hurts to think! What the devil are his agonies about - his writhings and twistings and foaming at all his mouths?
- The Letters of Ambrose Bierce, ed. Bertha Clark Pope; San Francisco, The Book Club of California, 1922, pp 106-107.
All things are considered proper for a man who is about to write a book. Like the disciple of Mary McLane who stole a horse in order to get the emotions of a police court, he may delve deeply not only into life, but into that under-stratum which is not spoken of, where respectable journals circulate.
Mr. [Elbert] Hubbard said he stopped at Butte, Mont., and was told that there was a beautiful girl - a genius there. He called to see Mary McLane, but was informed that she was in Boston to complete her education. "What,” said he, "complete an education in Boston? Well, I doubt it.”
Our modern plays and novels all centre about the values of personality, the influence of personality, the freedom of personality, the development, triumph, or defeat, of personality. When before our own day were such cold psychological problems as Ibsen's offered and accepted as entertainment? Even such expositions as Marie Bashkirtseff's and Mary MacLane's are accepted as frank statements of truth, 'human documents' that may help to gain freedom for other personalities.
Montana is full of silver and gold, and the early settlers kept extremely busy getting it out and trading it for railroads and senatorships. There are few cities in Montana, and most of these are infested with smelters. A smelter is a small cross section of Hades in full operation. Only human beings will live in Butte and Anaconda. Trees, grass and flies have too much sense ... Montana has many unique attractions, including a large flock of glaciers, a herd of buffaloes,the largest chimney in the world, most of the remaining free and unlimited cowboys, the retortful Senator Dixon and Mary MacLane, who once wrote up Butte so vividly that many people still see it when they have been indulging in frenzied feeding.
Copper: A mineral much employed in frenzied finance for the inauguration of panics. Found mainly around Butte, Montana, where the smelting fumes have killed off the vegetation and driven Mary MacLane into volume after volume of paroxysms and exclamation points.
Some of his tales were so blood-curdling, so steeped in gore and horror, that he felt almost alive when writing them. They had begun to attract some attention, owing to the contrast between the fierceness of theme and the neat precise English in which it was served. Butte valued him as a counter-irritant to Mary McLane, and he became a professional diner-out.
Altogether, Butte, after several years of oblivion, was happy and excited. So far, although mineralogically the most sensational state in the Union, and the third in size, she had given to the world but four highly specialized individuals: Marcus Daly, perhaps the greatest mine manager and ore wizard of our time; W.A. Clark, who accumulated millions as a moving picture show rolls in dimes; F. Augustus Heinze, who should be the greatest financial power in America if brains were all; and the Sapphic, coruscatic, imperishable Mary MacLane. An outstanding quartette. But Daly was dead, Clark was but one of many millionaires, submerged in New York, Heinze was reaping the whirlwind, and the poet was nursing her wounds.
Lalage Laffter knew her New York. She had not been one of its brilliant ephemera for nothing. Like most of Broadway's astonishing butterflies, she had been, until very recently, the drabbest of moths. Far from discouraging her, the thought of her prosy origin and her even prosier struggles was her constant stimulus. All the world's great beauties - Cleopatra, Ninon de l'Enclos, Frankie Bailey, Louise de la Valliere, the Cherry Sisters, Mary MacLane - these, she remembered, were all "small town” girls.
You tell the horrible truth about Dreiser with surgical accuracy, but he remains the best of the corn-fed herd. There is something Mary MacLaneish about him: his self-revelations are immense. Howells is too discreet and shallow. James is merely a fifth-rate Englishman. Dreiser really belongs to our fair republic, and shows the Knight of Pythias complex. I wish you knew him. He is more fun than a massacre.
There is great tragedy in a worn out tooth brush. Its tired bristles remind me of my Western lover, who always wore a three days' beard. He was a big, red-blooded man, who had no time for all the ultra refinements of civilization. Aside from the bristles, there is nothing about the brush to remind me of my stalwart Western lover, for he never used a tooth brush.
I hang my worn out tooth brush above my dressing table and worship it at twilight. What could make a better idol than an idle tooth brush? I make it burnt offerings of cigarette butts and waste hair. The hair has a smell which is unbeautiful, but so is the tooth brush. There is much beauty in the unbeautiful if you know how to look for it.
The back of my worn out tooth brush has a color like old ivory. It is not ivory, it is bone. But how often are bone and ivory one and the same. Consider Heinie Zimmerman.
As I contemplate my old worn out tooth brush I dream dreams. I dream of the succulent porker from which the bristles came, and my mouth waters until I go down into the ice box and dig [sic.] a cold fried pork chop. How delicate is a cold fried pork chop at midnight!
You may ask me why I choose a worn out tooth brush as a subject. But I shall not answer. My Western lover, whose harsh bristles made my cheeks an ecstatically raw and passionately sore surface, did not understand it, either. But I gave him up rather than to give up my worn out tooth brush.
Sometimes I feel wild and angry with my tooth brush and decide to break it in my strong, beautiful hands - my hands that I often sit and hold in each other for hours because I love them so. But I do not break the tooth brush. Perhaps when I have written 20,000 more words about it I shall cast it away and get a new one, but I shall await my royalty statements first. For I might not have enough money to buy a new one.
If I were a painter I should paint my worn out tooth brush, swinging on the nail above my table. And the painting should have all the pathos, the exhaustion, the terror, the ugliness, and the beauty of the brush - but never the usefulness of it. For you cannot wash your teeth with a painting.
It's a Tuesday morning and I'd amazingly love to eat a Cold Boiled Prune.
I shall never be able to tell one-tenth of my quaintly-vulgar Tuesday morning fondness for a Cold Boiled Prune.
But now I must work, work, work, work, work. So I write me this stuff of me.
I find Me in this Chicago-Ilinois, in a sweetly Madison street picture-show. I am fascinatingly-B.&O[']ly late. The things I see are garbledly-tangled into an indescribable heap in my abdomen. I can write of them only vaguely-jumbley.
The picture is You, Mary MacLane, and your Passionate Male Sextet.
I see your white flannel-trouseredly naughty boy.
And I see your portfolioly pen-pushing black-black-black bow-tied writer-man.
And your too easily ossified son-of-baronet.
And your napkin-in-his-necked box fighter.
And your anti-alcoholic bucolic bank clerk.
And your married devil-in-his own-home-town.
I see all six of the Men Who Have Made Love to You (and by the way, Mary, I'll say you weren't entirely on the defensive).
And I hear them and others subtitley addressing you with such remarks as "Say listen” and "I should worry” and "You're some jane” and "For God's sake, lay off him”. And I see you standing for it.
And I must admit that even if you do play with a doll and drink cocktails and don a kimono at 7:50 P.M., I'm off'n You, Mary MacLane, and never again will I believe that a girl is damnably different because of what she says in a book.
You're a broken idol with I, Ring Lardner, and in spite of my futile way-of-life and my rotting destroying half acquiescence in it I have a furious positive Murder in me.
I do not know why I don't do the Murder. It is not from fear of consequences - not in this Chicago-Illinois.
It would be simpler and finer for me to do this Murder than to keep it in me.
It would be a simpler and fine thing to do any Murder than to feel even once, the strangling damnedness rising, rising at my throat.
I wish I'd been born a Wild Boar.
Dear Mr. Graves:
Did I tell you what I was reading today? It was "I, Mary MacLane” and I guess it must have been about the "steenth” time I have read it. What a wonderful mind she has and how she simply fascinates a person. Sometimes I think I will write a book like her's and just set my thoughts down as they come, but I'm afraid the whole book would be just one person's name written over and over again, only I would have to know their first name before I could write it.
Your (?) Edna
Herbert Stuart Stone, eldest son of Mr. Melville E. Stone, founder of the Chicago Daily News, was the chief originator and principal editor [of The Chap-Book]. Melville E. Stone, Jr., was business manager. Contributions were received from the leading literary writers of England and America, which was a stimulus to ambitious writers in Chicago. Hamlin Garland was a frequent contributor. So was Wallace Rice.
Mr. Stone was in close touch with Aubrey Beardsley, and many of his clever sketches adorned the pages of The Chap Book.
By something that looks a little like irony, the firm of Stone and Kimball [sic. - Herbert S. Stone & Co.] is remembered by reason of their having issued Mary MacLane's book "The Story of Mary MacLane," that astonishing revelation of an ego made interesting to itself by its own fever. That book outtopped all their more ambitious efforts, outlasts them all, survives the firm itself, and has let loose upon the public a simulacrum that cannot sink or be sunk, a joke that will not die. The book sold tremendously; its proceeds saved the firm from disaster.
After the divorce he went out West, where he hoped that philosophers, like grand opera, were unknown. He swore, too, that he'd never fall for another woman. But he did. Two years later he met a little stenographer from Montana in the office where he had a desk. He became cautious as soon as he found her mixed up with his dreams at night. "Suppose," he said to himself, "that she has a line of quotations too? Mame never let out any of the stuff until after she got me. I'll look before I leap this time, all rightyright."
But she took all the paces like a thoroughbred, and he found her as simple and wholesome as she was pretty. One day, however, she threw an awful scare into him. Offhanded like, she mentioned Mary McLane. Not caring for other girls, he said, "I don't know the dame." He was thinking how corkingly her hair curled at the nape of her neck ...
Then he grew grave. "But say, what was all that Mary McLane gaff you were throwing? Do you read books, or poetry, or - or anything?"
She squirmed. "N-no. Not exactly. I just heard of her living out Montana way."
"But why me? Why spring it on me?"
He wanted and yet feared to know the truth. She looked at him squarely.
"I might 'a' known you'd call my bluff," her mouth trembled. "I knew you was educated and I thought you cared for books and such like. So I pretended I knew something, too. But I'll be honest with you, Phil. The only book I ever read from soup to nuts was 'Three Weeks.'"
Did I write something about the rosy but dim and distant date when Dolores would be "through school?" Well, it's come. She's through school. And school, I might mention in passing, is through with her - five of them, from Miss Trenchard's Spartan smartness to the gentle Spanish convent. She's a demon-baby. She's a cross between Carmen and Mary Maclane.
Bud Kelland that lives over to Port Washington wrote a piece for this magazine a wile ago where he said in it that it kind of shocked him to find out that young people didn't act like he was one of them no more. Well he ain't, but it took the old gaffer a long time to find it out. Here he is pretty near 39 and I guess the old Methuselum wants folks to hide I Mary Mac Lane when he comes in the rm.
[All spellings and punctuation as published.]
Celebrities Take Public Into Their Confidence as to Reading Choice
In today's list of celebrities we have poets, scientists, novelists and short-story writers, critics, and editors.
Poet; author of "Tramping on Life," "Cry of Youth" (poems), Judas (play)[,] made a trip around the world, starting with 25 cents, tramped all over America. Member of the Poetry Society of America and the London Poetry Society.
"Savage Races of the World"
"Adventure in Africa," (Stanley)
"The Story of Mary MacLane," (MacLane)
Marie Bashkirtseff's "Diary"
"I don't suppose there's a single book that doesn't eventually land here with a 5c tag to it,” mourned Zoe.
"Still, the person who finally does get it for his five cents,” consoled Kane, "probably loves it more than the person who originally bought it.”
In this mining camp which may be remembered as having been advertised extensively some eleven years ago by the gifted Mrs. Gertrude Atherton in her novel "Perch of the Devil.” She described with much detail and no little artistry the Butte hill at night, with its blazing scarf of lights twirled out against a sky of black ice, the Flat and its roadhouses, the electric atmosphere, the glistering mountains roundabout. A thunderous outcry arose from Butte's upper social stratum when the book appeared, to the effect that Mrs. Atherton had misrepresented local conditions shockingly, and altogether had not done right by our city. Inasmuch as the novelist caused her central character, by way of capping his other exploits, to outsmart the Anaconda Copper Mining Company in a projected land-grab, the criticism would seem to have been rather unjust, for the reason that an achievement of this generic aspect represents the unspoken wish, or libido, of fully nine-tenths of Montana's male population of voting age. The other tenth work, have worked, or hope some day to work, for the Company.
Butte, further, is the city where lived, wept, laughed twistedly, and wrote with an iroann nib dipped in fire that wizardress of beautiful words, Mary MacLane. The poet resides in Chicago nowadays, I believe, where presumably she looks into her smouldering heart and writes down what she finds there. Her own city, world-wearily persuaded for reasons shortly to appear that all poems are but vanity, laughted at her consistently, yet gloried none the less in the terrific splash she made with "The Story of Mary MacLane.” That was in 1902.
A day or so later, Sidney writes a long second installment of the letter from his office when “everyone but me is gone and I can just sit here, sometimes for hours, and have fancies.” After acknowledging feelings of guilt over his “innocent lie” to Hallie about having to stay overnight for business, he continues his account of his experience in Chicago. Arriving at the Dill Pickle, he entered “a long low room” where, in addition to the bookseller, his wife and daughter, seven people with “rather dull faces” sat waiting. The owner of the Dill Pickle invited Sidney to a meeting at which a Madame Freiburger was to speak on “Men who have made love to me.” A fat man introduced the blind woman as “the best mind on intellectual things of anyone in America,” and then sat down and dozed off.
The woman spoke on Dostoevsky, and by the time she finished, Adams writes, “I suppose I and the husband and the rowdy daughter, now sitting with her hands crossed and looking very demure and solemn, were the only ones in the audience not asleep.” Afterwards, Adams invited the three of them out to dinner. On the way the daughter spoke of marriage, stating “in a matter of fact tone” that she had no interest in marrying but that “In a year or two” she would “go in for some experimenting with lovers.” Later in the restaurant she spoke to him about her interest in Russia: “I will never be an intellectual like Mother and so I should be a woman of action. I wish I lived in Russia now. I would like nothing better than the chance to get out and fight for the liberation of the proletariat.” - https://blog.richmond.edu/studentvoice-2/environment/summer-2000-volume-25-number-2/the-education-of-sidney-adams-andersons-letters-to-cynthia/
I came back to life last January after the newsppapers began cracking at me (it was rather a shock - nobody ever tried to interfere with Ring Lardner's utterly private life, but I had myself to blame with those indiscreet Esquire articles) and decided to be an example to myself. I now admire myself almost as much as , Mary McLane [sic.], and Casanova.
At the other extreme [in types of tornado-chasers] is what Vasquez politely calls "the romantic storm chaser” (the yahoo), the seeker of sublime encounter, descendent of Mary MacLane, Wordsworth, and William Blake, who can't be bothered with maps and data.
Biography in brief, reader reactions past and present, some words on The Project and people involved.Learn
News/blog, site map, her silent film, editions in print, reviews past and present, photos/artwork from admirers, more.See
Support the Project by buying the authoritative Petrarca Press editions of works by and about Mary MacLane.Read
Our blog, F/book, Twitter, Tumblr, Insta., etc. plus email contact for those with questions or information on Mary MacLane.Connect
Join the Mary MacLane community on Facebook. Interact with other fans, get exclusive updates.Face
Follow @fuguewriter for updated Mary MacLane content, announcements, interviews, and more.Read
Add @fuguewriter for updated Mary MacLane content, announcements, interviews, and more.Tweet
Add @fuguewriter for tumblr Mary-MacLane-related content, announcements, fan art, and more.Tumble
Add @fuguewriter for Instagram Mary-MacLane-related content, announcements, fan photos, and more.Snap