Miss Pym and a Friend

Miss Pym and a Friend

Thursday, February 21, 2013

An Apologia for Countess Erzebet Bathory: Letters and Infamous Ladies in a Dandelion Garden

An Apologia for Countess Erzebet Bathory: Letters and Infamous Ladies in a Dandelion Garden: The Private Letters of Erzebet Báthory by Kimberly Craft   Infamous Lady by Kimberly Craft   Dandelions in the Garden by Charlie C...

A Study of Marmee

Marmee and Louisa, The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and her Mother by Eve La Ҏlante. Free press  Illustrated 368 pages.


My Heart is Boundless: Writings of Abigail May Alcott, Louisa’s Mother Ed. by Eve La Ҏlante. 250 pages..


It is telling that the author must include in the second book the subtitle, “Louisa’s Mother”, for many of us do not know the real name of the beloved Marmee of Little Women.


Brenda Wineaṕṕle reviews both books for the NY Times Review of Books, Dec. 23, 2012. 


Both books address the role of Marmee as breadwinner, an  “excellent woman” who takes on the role of head of household while her “feckless” transcendentalist husband Bronson engages in one money losing scheme after another.  But, we who read LW know this; Mr. Alcott is the ultimate absent father, though Alcott  chooses to soften his irresponsibility by sending him to the Civil War to end is a prisoner of the confederates.


According to the reviewer,  both books address the role of mothers to women, especially historical authors, which is often overlooked.  Alcott is more often described as the daughter of “Bronson Alcott,” and not as the daughter of Abigail May Alcott, just as the role of Rev. Bronte is emphasized in biographies of Charlotte, Anne, and Emily.   Abigail Alcott was in her own right an important woman, from a good Bostonian Family, who “married down” and who learned poverty first hand from her husband,  who described himself as “an Idea without Hands,” and who declared “Sacrifices must be made.”  In other words, as Wineaṕṕle and  La Ҏlante. Point out, the sacrifices were all Marmees.   Also, as both indicate, it is possible to read between the lives in LW and other Alcott books to see the frustration, rivalry and resentment of the women involved.   As Abigail is to have said, “Woman lives her thoughts; Man speculates about it” 


Abigail chose two wrestle the Angel of the House by beating her at her own game.  She took in all kinds of work, all within the gender expectations  for women of the day, but fruitful nevertheless.  Abigail kept the family going; she, not Bronson headed the family.  She was an excellent woman that was art tea brewer in a crisis, and art warrior woman.


For those of us who have lost our mothers, and who realizes their importance in our lives, and the void, because no one loves us, likes us, or does things for us as our mothers did, the life of Abigail Alcott is particularly poignant and significant.






Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: I will be Back; Finishing a Book

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: I will be Back; Finishing a Book: So, I will return, as my Gen. Macarthur doll might say. LOL!. More musings, and then a very brief hiatus. The competition factor involved ...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

News About Mary Ingalls

Maybe this was the same type of bran fever that cost Helen Keller her sight and hearing. Little House, Fans, see below: February 5, 2013 (CHICAGO) -- Any fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder's beloved ''Little House'' books knows how the author's sister Mary Ingalls went blind: scarlet fever. But that probably wasn't the cause, medical experts say, upending one of the more dramatic elements in the classic stories. An analysis of historical documents, biographical records and other material suggests another disease that causes swelling in the brain and upper spinal cord was the most likely culprit. It was known as "brain fever" in the late 1800s, the setting for the mostly true stories about Wilder's pioneer family. Scarlet fever was rampant and feared at the time, and it was likely often misdiagnosed for other illnesses that cause fever, the researchers said. Wilder's letters and unpublished memoir, on which the books are based, suggest she was uncertain about her sister's illness, referring to it as "some sort of spinal sickness." And a registry at an Iowa college for blind students that Mary attended says "brain fever" caused her to lose her eyesight, the researchers said. They found no mention that Mary Ingalls had a red rash that is a hallmark sign of scarlet fever. It's caused by the same germ that causes strep throat. It is easily treated with antibiotics that didn't exist in the 1800s and is no longer considered a serious illness. Doctors used to think blindness was among the complications, but that's probably because they misdiagnosed scarlet fever in children who had other diseases, said study author Dr. Beth Tarini, a pediatrician and researcher at the University of Michigan. Her study appears online Monday in Pediatrics. It's the latest study offering a modern diagnosis for a historical figure. Others subjected to revisionists' microscope include Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin, composer Wolfgang Mozart and Abraham Lincoln. Tarini said as a girl she was a fan of the "Little House" books and wanted to research Mary Ingalls' blindness ever since scarlet fever came up during a medical school discussion. "I raised my hand and said, 'Scarlet fever can make you go blind, right?'" The instructor hesitated and responded, "I don't think so." The disease that Mary Ingalls probably had is called meningoencephalitis (muh-NING-go-en-sef-ah-LY-tis). It can be caused by bacteria and treated with antibiotics, but Tarini said it's likely she had the viral kind, which can be spread by mosquitoes and ticks. The viral disease is fairly common today, particularly in summer months and can cause fever, headaches and sometimes seizures, said Dr. Buddy Creech, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University. Affected children typically require hospitalization but lasting effects are uncommon, Creech said. Still, blindness can occur if the disease affects the optic nerve, and it's entirely possible that Mary Ingalls had the condition, he said. Historian William Anderson, author of Laura Ingalls Wilder biography, said various theories about Mary Ingalls' blindness have been floating around for years. The new analysis provides credible evidence that it was caused by something other than scarlet fever, but it does nothing to discredit the books, Anderson said. "From a literary standpoint, scarlet fever just seemed to be the most convenient way" to describe Mary's illness, he said.