Here's a variation on the "reading woman" theme. I recently bought this postcard of Norman Rockwell's The Most Beloved American Writer, 1937. Do you think this is meant to be Louisa May Alcott? That's who comes to mind when I saw it. Not just LMA, but Jo March sitting in her attic room penning her stories.
It seems fitting then to share the card as I've been reading more of my Revelations: Diaries of Women by Mary Jane Moffat. I've been slowly working my way through the entries, but I am itching to start one of the "proper" full length (or at least more than just an excerpt or two) diaries that I've been lately acquiring. Not sure which (am spoiled for choice), but first things first. Must finish this collection. It's my newest gym book and it's actually quite engrossing despite the short chapters.
I'm now reading the "Work" section of the book and have been reading diary entries by Anna Dostoevsky, Sophie Tolstoy, Ruth Benedict and am at the moment reading excerpts from the diary of an unknown Japanese woman. Tomorrow I'll start with Dorothy Wordsworth and then move on to Alice James.
The Tolstoy's had this hugely tumultuous relationship. After having read Anna Karenina, I know who he bases the Levin character on--himself. Sophie was young when she married him and he was twice her age. As a youth he led a wild life and was terribly moody. Sophie had thirteen children with him and was fairly miserable during a lot of their time together, yet she still adored him. She confided to her diary their rollercoaster-like relationship, so is quite similar to others who pick up their diaries when they are feeling particularly low. They are an intriguing couple and Sophie Tolstoy was something of a writer in her own right, but I'm not sure I could read her entire diary. It might be too emotionally draining.
Here's a taste:
" . . . I have always been told that a woman must love her husband and be honourable and be a good wife and mother. They write such things in the ABC books, and it is all nonsense. The thing to do is not to love, to be clever and sly, and to hide all one's bad points--as if anyone in the world had no faults! And the main thing is not to love. See what I have done by loving him so deeply! It is so painful and humiliating; but he thinks that it is merely silly. 'You say one things and always do another.' But what is the good of arguing in this superior manner, when I have nothing in me but this humiliating love and a bad temper; and these two things have been the cause of all my misfortunes, for my temper has always interfered with my love. I want nothing but his love and sympathy, and he won't give it me; and all my pride is trampled in the mud; I am nothing but a miserable crushed worm, whom no one wants, whom no one loves, a useless creature with morning sickness, and a big belly, two rotten teeth, and a bad temper, a battered sense of dignity, and a love which nobody wants and which nearly drives me insane."
I've noticed more than one woman in this book writing about love and the need for it. Do men ever write about it, I'm now left wondering.