What is one of your favorite biographies?
- SpikeLv 71 month ago
Walt Disney: An American Original by Bob Thomas
- MarliLv 71 month ago
Marmee and Louisa, by Eve LaPlante.
Abba May Alcott married a dreamer. He started schools in which the children did not learn facts and figures, but encouraged thinking about why trees have leaves and why little girls should give up their birthday cake to guests and why humans should not eat meat. The problem with living a transcendentalist's life was that the neighbors would not pay to have their children taught philosophy and ethics by free thought instead of reading, writing and arithmetic by discipline and practice. They pitied the wife of a man who never seemed to come down from cloud-cuckoo-land to feed his hungry family. She resented pity and handouts, but she had to accept charity and beg loans from her brother Sam. Apples, greens, water and rusk biscuits were little nourishment; but Bronson was the husband and father, and his will was law. A wife must never show her anger, always be loyal and never complain. She loved her Bronson, but she seethed with fury inside She wrote her struggles in her diary. It took all her mental strength to keep serene for her girls. Louisa learned from her because she was like her. She wanted her father to love and appreciate her. They shared a birthday too, which to Louisa was a special bond. Bronson's love was conditional on her obedience and her expressions of love for him.
I found it harrowing. I wanted to hit Bronson with all his apples to wake him up to the harm he was doing to his wife and child. His other three girls were malleable, but Louisa was stubborn. She loved her father and tried to fight her self-will and to please him but didn't she have legitimate wants too?
It became too much for Abba to bear. She was cooking and cleaning for her family and his houseguest who belittled her and she told Bronson she was taking the girls to Boston. She would return to him if he chose her over his fellow transcendentalist.
It was awesome to read that gentle, firm ultimatum. She was saying in effect that she would and could take care of herself and her daughters and that a husband must cherish and protect his wife if he wants to keep her. She did take care of herself, with the help of friends who started her as a seamstress and then as a matron in the workhouse. Abba became involved in "social work" -- seeking out poor mother-led families like hers and helping them with food and work and empathy -- because she had formed connections with Boston charities. (Marmee's visits to the Hummel family and other needy cases, and charming Aunt March and Mr. Laurence into philanthropy are portraits of Abba in action.)
Bronson went into his own depression. They eventually reconciled, though it was not publicly stated that they had parted. Bronson was still a dreamer and a philosopher, still head of the house; but he showed he respected his wife's importance as the caretaker and "doer" of the family, and Louisa's ability as the breadwinner, a "doer" like her mother.
- bluebellbkkLv 71 month ago
My very favourite biography, in fact an autobiography, one that I've been returning to over and over again for about 40 years, is that of the late American novelist Marcia Davenport, daughter of the famous early-20th century soprano Alma Gluck, step-daughter of the violinist Efrem Zimbalist, wife for a while of Russell Davenport who was one of the directors of "Fortune" and "Life" magazines, and later the close companion of the Czech statesman Jan Masaryk, who was murdered in 1948 by the new Communist government.
The book is entitled "Too Strong For Fantasy" and it deals with so many topics of close interest to me: classical music, especially opera; travel in Europe; American involvement in WW2; writing; human rights; food, and cats.