Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Anne Morrow Lindbergh was born on this day in 1906. Lindbergh's biographers make it clear that she regarded her fame as both worthwhile and worthless, depending on its source. She was proud of her accomplishments as an aviator-adventurer and author, and perhaps even more proud of her husband's, but her celebrity status as bereaved mother and spokeswoman (for feminism, conservationism, etc.) left her scornful and puzzled. Her Gift from the Sea,a nonfiction bestseller when published in 1955 and still popular, speaks to both sides of the fame coin, advising women to find their own outward and inward paths:

Woman's life today is tending more and more toward the state William James describes so well in the German word, "Zerrissenheit—torn-to-pieces-hood." She cannot live perpetually in "Zerrissenheit." She will be shattered into a thousand pieces. On the contrary, she must consciously encourage those pursuits which oppose the centrifugal forces of today…. Solitude, says the moon shell. Center-down, say the Quaker saints. To the possession of the self the way is inward, says Plotinus. The cell of self-knowledge is the stall in which the pilgrim must be reborn, says St. Catherine of Siena.

The reflections in Gift from the Sea were inspired by Lindbergh’s time on Florida’s Captiva Island. At the end of the book, she eyes leaving her retreat with apprehension, fearing a return to "not only too many dull people but too many interesting ones," to "values weighed in quantity, not quality; in speed, not stillness; in noise, not silence; in words, not in thoughts." The retreat within may have gone too far, as described by Lindbergh’s daughter. In No More Words (2001), Reeve Lindbergh recounts caring for her mother over her last, difficult twenty-two months, a period during which, after a lifetime of writing and engagement, she became increasingly uncommunicative:

Words were central to her life for as long as I have known her, and yet she appears perfectly comfortable without them. She does not miss them. I on the other hand, am at a loss. I am bewildered, confused, absolutely at sea, in my mother’s silence.

Daybook is contributed by Steve King, who teaches in the English Department of Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland. His literary daybook began as a radio series syndicated nationally in Canada. He can be found online at todayinliterature.com.

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."