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Posts Tagged ‘Walker Percy

“A girl should be two things: who and what she wants”*…

 

From Lapham Quarterly‘s issue on The Future, an excerpt from Meta Stern Lilienthal’s 1916 book Women of the Future

The young maidens of the future, healthy in body and mind, will go forth from educational institutions to perform their life’s work in their chosen trades and professions. Be they cooks or laundresses, weavers or dressmakers, typewriters or telephone operators, teachers or physicians, they will be assured of a decent livelihood and of the wholesome enjoyments of life in return for their services to society. They will be young as few are young today, even among the favored classes. They will work and enjoy themselves and live with an amount of youthful energy and enthusiasm that is rarely met with in our present enfeebled, overworked, poverty-stricken world. The haggard faces, anemic complexions, and drooping shoulders which are so prevalent among the working girls of today that the average city dweller fails to notice them, will disappear like the white plague and other preventable curses of humanity. Bright eyes, ruddy complexions, and straight, strong bodies will be the inalienable rights of youth. We know that health and strength and vigor are not only possible but natural to youth. Young savage women, untouched by the evils of civilization, show it, and the athletic daughters of the propertied classes, spared from the evils of civilization, show it also. The maidens of the future, strong, healthy, active, and educated, will be physically and mentally fit for wifehood and motherhood as not one in a hundred is today. Eventually every Jill will find her Jack, according to individual needs and circumstances, but economic causes will not retard marriages or prevent those who love one another from joining their lives. Jill will not ask, “Can Jack support me?” because she will be fully able to support herself, and Jack will not inquire whether Jill can make good pies—unless pie making be her trade—because he will be able to get all the pies he wants, even better than “mother used to make.” Instead, they will ask themselves seriously, intelligently, questions such as these: “Do we love deeply and truly?”

Springtime for Women

* Coco Chanel

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As we agree with Niels Bohr that “prediction is very difficult, especially about the future,” we might send birthday greetings in the Agrarian tradition to Caroline Ferguson Gordon; she was born on this date in 1895 (so was likely one of those “young maidens” of whom Lilienthal wrote).  A novelist and critic of distinction– while still in her thirties, she won two prestigious literary awards, a 1932 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 1934 O. Henry Award– she was also (with her long-time partner, the poet and critic Allen Tate) the convener of a salon in her Tennessee home that hosted some of the best-known writers of their time, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, T. S. Eliot, Robert Penn Warren, and Ford Madox Ford, the author whom Gordon considered her mentor.  She was herself a mentor to younger writers, perhaps most notably, Walker Percy.

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Written by LW

October 6, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Rest and be thankful”*…

 

Flower Mound, Texas

A new photography book, The Last Stop: Vanishing Rest Stops of the American Roadside ($45, powerHouse Books), captures the functionality and design of aging U.S. highway rest areas, with a heavy dose of nostalgia.

Over nearly 15 road-trips since 2009—several taken with her mother in tow—the California-based photographer Ryann Ford traveled the American West, Midwest, and parts of the South in search of the unique character that defines these highway fixtures. At one since-disappeared location in Flower Mound, Texas, a picnic table is covered by a roof in the shape of longhorns…

Bonneville, Utah

The rest stops in Ford’s book all seem to speak to the character of their respective locations in some way, and certainly to the moment in the late 1950s and ‘60s when most were constructed. America was in love with the automobile, and the new Interstate Highway System opened up easier, speedier access to the continental U.S. than before. But interstates also eliminated interaction with the towns and landscapes they passed through. Using vernacular architecture, rest stops became a way for states and localities to connect travelers to the surrounding environment, as the introduction to Ford’s book explains. They communicated a sense of place in a rapidly homogenizing countryside

More at “The Fading Glory of America’s Highway Rest Stops.”

* William Wordsworth

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As we pull over, we might send thoughtful birthday greetings to Walker Percy; he was born on this date in 1916.  Trained as a physician, Percy turned to literature, writing a series of novels largely set in and around his native Louisiana, the first of which, The Moviegoer, won the National Book Award.  Heavily influenced by his reading of  Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky, and by the Catholic faith to which he converted, his work was an exploration of “the dislocation of man in the modern age.”  He also published a number of non-fiction works exploring his interests in semiotics and Existentialism, the most popular work being Lost in the Cosmos.

Percy taught at Loyola University of New Orleans and mentored younger writers; he was instrumental in getting John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel A Confederacy of Dunces published in 1980.  He was a life-long friend of his childhood neighbor Shelby Foote, historian and novelist of The Civil War: A Narrative (the basis of Ken Burn’s series The Civil War.)

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Written by LW

May 28, 2016 at 1:01 am

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