Category Archives: Heilbrun, Carolyn

Given to Murder: Amanda Cross, Honest Doubt

“I know you said most professors aren’t given to murder, but are English departments more given to murder than most?” “Not as far as I know,” Kate said. Over the years I have read all of the Kate Fansler mysteries by Amanda Cross (who was really Columbia English professor and renowned feminist critic Carolyn Heilbrun). Honest […]

“Life is Never Absent”: May Sarton, Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing

In her 1974 introduction to Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing, Carolyn Heilbrun comments on how little “organized acclamation” or “academic attention” May Sarton has received. I was curious to see if that had changed in the intervening decades, so I did a quick subject search on the MLA Bibliography and turned up 108 results since […]

“The Rough Rocky Depths”: May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude

“Plant Dreaming Deep has brought me many friends,” says May Sarton early in Journal of a Solitude, “…but I have begun to realize that, without my intention, that book gives a false view.” She worried that she had given an overly idealistic picture of her life alone in her restored New Hampshire farmhouse, which she describes […]

Writing Carolyn Heilbrun’s Life: Susan Kress, Feminist in a Tenured Position

It’s appropriate for a biography of Carolyn Heilbrun to be self-conscious about the challenges of writing about a woman’s life: Heilbrun literally wrote the book on this, in her slim but influential Writing a Woman’s Life. I’ve written here before about the influence of that little book on my own thinking and writing — and I’ve written […]

“There solitude became my task”: May Sarton, Plant Dreaming Deep

I’ve owned Plant Dreaming Deep for a couple of years at least. It’s always funny, isn’t it, when a book that has just been sitting on the shelf suddenly catches your attention, as if its moment to be read has finally arrived? I sometimes think of it as a ripening process — though whether it’s me or […]

“Women Catch Courage”: Carolyn Heilbrun, The Last Gift of Time

The greatest oddity of one’s sixties is that, if one dances for joy, one always supposes it is for the last time. Yet this supposition provides the rarest and most exquisite flavor to one’s later years. The piercing sense of “last time” adds intensity, while the possibility of “again” is never quite effaced. It’s impossible […]

Writing and Life: Influential Critics

Some time ago one of my most thoughtful readers (hi, Tom!) suggested I write about “a teacher/scholar whose work has had a significant influence on you.” I really liked this idea because, as I said in the resulting post, “It is impossible to overestimate the importance the right teacher at the right time can have […]

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