Victorian Smackdown: Five Little Peppers v. Four Little Women, Part 2

Last week, I speculated about possible tension between Louisa May Alcott and Harriett Lothrop (“Margaret Sidney”), who, along with Nathaniel Hawthorne, lived in The Wayside in Concord, Massachusetts during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the week between that first post and this, I was delighted to discover a book by Patricia West, Domesticating […]

Victorian Smackdown? Five Little Peppers v. Four Little Women: Part 1

On the road from Lexington to Concord, Massachusetts, midway between the welter of orange-striped traffic barrels on the outskirts and the boutiques and pricey restaurants downtown, two old wood-framed houses sit side by side. One of these, Orchard House, is famous as the place where Louisa May Alcott wrote some of her best-known books. The […]

“The More Mysterious Life”: Jewish High Holiday liturgy, Leonard Cohen songs, and Geraldine Brooks’ new novel

As summer turns to fall, the season rolls into a celebration of Jewish holidays, one stacked upon another. This week is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, and it begins a ten day period known as the days of repentance. A traditional prayer, the Unetaneh Tokef, said during both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, acknowledges […]

From Heart to Page: Lancing the Boil of Grief

Do not stand at my grave and weep; I am not there. I do not sleep…. Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there, I did not die. (Excerpts from “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep” by Mary Frye) Once upon a time I would have found this poem […]

From And to Or: How Does Writing Change the World?

The trouble with oral cultures is they leave so little behind. Apart from ruins and religious art there isn’t much we can use to get inside their minds. Take the Minoans, whose entire civilization rose and fell nearly 1500 years before the birth of Jesus. What remains suggests a culture that prized women and may […]