Thursday, August 5, 2010
I ran across this quote from a letter just now, which I found years ago but hadn't looked at in ages. It was written in 1896. Read on:
My principal task is to study men...The personal column is the medium I use. There I find all classes, nationality, and rank, and my innermost desire is to, once in my life, be able to write and publish something about it. It cuts my heart to see how people live there - all the unchastity, lewdness, debauchery, dissoluteness, extravagance, and wildness. In the six years I have been working on it, I have learned a good deal; mighty few of them is fit to be in existence.
Now I strenuously disagree with this lady's conclusions; unchastity, debauchery, extravagance, etc, there is to spare - but there's plenty of romance too, and I most certainly do not agree that "few of them is [sic] fit to be in existence."
But as for the rest...I could write the exact same thing easily. Even the length of time is close, though I haven't been working on the dissertation itself for six years. More like five. Which is more or less the same thing, when you get down to it. Isn't it amazing? That 114 years ago someone was saying exactly what I feel about the personal column?
I think if I may add this quote as the closing line of my Introduction, or somehow work it in, because I like how this woman - alas, anonymous - is like my ancestor. Unlike her, however, I actually am going to publish something one day. (I suppose she may have done, but if she did, it's long since disappeared.)
©2010 Pam Epstein