FEMINIST FRIDAY

“I want to do something splendid…something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it and mean to astonish you all someday.”
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

I remember reading those words when I was a young girl and holding Little Women to my heart.  At last I thought there is someone like me who wants to be independent and write and conquer the world and won’t be told that a “girl” can’t do it.

It was the anniversary of Louisa May Alcott’s birth on November 29.  Here is her story.

My book came out; and people began to think that
topsy-turvy Louisa would amount to something after all …

-Louisa May Alcott, 1855

Louisa May Alcott was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania on November 29, 1832. She and her three sisters, Anna, Elizabeth, and May, were educated by their father, philosopher/ teacher Bronson Alcott, and raised on the practical Christianity of their mother, Abigail May.

Louisa spent her childhood in Boston and in Concord, Massachusetts, where her days were enlightened by visits to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s library, excursions into nature with Henry David Thoreau, and theatricals in the barn at “Hillside” (now Hawthorne’s “Wayside”).

Like her character, “Jo March” in Little Women, young Louisa was a tomboy. “No boy could be my friend till I had beaten him in a race,” she claimed, “and no girl if she refused to climb trees, leap fences …”

For Louisa, writing was an early passion. She had a rich imagination and often her stories became melodramas that she and her sisters would act out for friends. Louisa preferred to play the “lurid” parts in these plays –“the villains, ghosts, bandits, and disdainful queens.”

At age 15, troubled by the poverty that plagued her family, she vowed: “I will do something by and by. Don’t care what, teach, sew, act, write, anything to help the family; and I’ll be rich and famous and happy before I die, see if I won’t!”

Confronting a society that offered little opportunity to women seeking employment, Louisa determined, “… I will make a battering-ram of my head and make my way through this rough and tumble world.” Whether as a teacher, seamstress, governess, or household servant, for many years Louisa did any work she could find.

Louisa’s career as an author began with poetry and short stories that appeared in popular magazines. In 1854, when she was 22, her first book Flower Fables was published. A milestone along her literary path was Hospital Sketches (1863), based on the letters she had written home from her post as a nurse in Washington, DC during the Civil War.

When Louisa was 35 years old, her publisher in Boston, Thomas Niles, asked her to write “a book for girls.” Little Women was written at Orchard House from May to July 1868. The novel is based on Louisa and her sisters’ coming of age and is set in Civil War New England. “Jo March” was the first American juvenile heroine to act from her own individuality –a living, breathing person rather than the idealized stereotype then prevalent in children’s fiction.

In all, Louisa published over 30 books and collections of stories. She died on March 6, 1888, only two days after her father, and is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord.

louisa-may-alcott-image

LOUISA MAY ALCOTT YOU ROCK!

Thanks for taking the time to read and if you have a story about a remarkable woman you would like to share, please feel free to leave your site information in the comments section.

bernadette

Information obtained from the Louisa May Alcott Memorial Association

FEMINIST FRIDAY

JOAN OF ARC

BY LEONARD COHEN

Now the flames they followed joan of arc
As she came riding through the dark;
No moon to keep her armour bright,
No man to get her through this very smoky night.
She said, I’m tired of the war,
I want the kind of work I had before,
A wedding dress or something white
To wear upon my swollen appetite.

Well, I’m glad to hear you talk this way,
You know I’ve watched you riding every day
And something in me yearns to win
Such a cold and lonesome heroine.
And who are you? she sternly spoke
To the one beneath the smoke.
Why, I’m fire, he replied,
And I love your solitude, I love your pride.

Then fire, make your body cold,
I’m going to give you mine to hold,
Saying this she climbed inside
To be his one, to be his only bride.
And deep into his fiery heart
He took the dust of joan of arc,
And high above the wedding guests
He hung the ashes of her wedding dress.

It was deep into his fiery heart
He took the dust of joan of arc,
And then she clearly understood
If he was fire, oh then she must be wood.
I saw her wince, I saw her cry,
I saw the glory in her eye.
Myself I long for love and light,
But must it come so cruel, and oh so bright?

 

The death of Leonard Cohen last week and the results of the Presidential elections found me thinking about the story of Joan and how it is an unhappy parable for our times.  Joan’s story:

At the age of 13, Joan began to hear voices, which she determined had been sent by God to give her a mission of overwhelming importance: to save France by expelling its enemies, and to install Charles as its rightful king. As part of this divine mission, Joan took a vow of chastity. At the age of 16, after her father attempted to arrange a marriage for her, she successfully convinced a local court that she should not be forced to accept the match.

JOAN’S JOURNEY TO ORLÉANS
In May 1428, Joan made her way Vaucouleurs, a nearby stronghold of those loyal to Charles. Initially rejected by the local magistrate, Robert de Baudricourt, she persisted, attracting a small band of followers who believed her claims to be the virgin who (according to a popular prophecy) was destined to save France. When Baudricort relented, Joan cropped her hair and dressed in men’s clothes to make the 11-day journey across enemy territory to Chinon, site of the crown prince’s palace.

Joan promised Charles she would see him crowned king at Reims, the traditional site of French royal investiture, and asked him to give her an army to lead to Orléans, then under siege from the English. Against the advice of most of his counselors and generals, Charles granted her request, and Joan set off for Orléans in March of 1429 dressed in white armor and riding a white horse. After sending off a defiant letter to the enemy, Joan led several French assaults against them, driving the Anglo-Burgundians from their bastion and forcing their retreat across the Loire River.

DOWNFALL OF JOAN OF ARC
After such a miraculous victory, Joan’s reputation spread far and wide among French forces. She and her followers escorted Charles across enemy territory to Reims, taking towns that resisted by force and enabling his coronation as King Charles VII in July 1429. Joan argued that the French should press their advantage with an attempt to retake Paris, but Charles wavered, even as his favorite at court, Georges de La Trémoille, warned him that Joan was becoming too powerful. The Anglo-Burgundians were able to fortify their positions in Paris, and turned back an attack led by Joan in September.

In the spring of 1430, the king ordered Joan to confront a Burgundian assault on Compiégne. In her effort to defend the town and its inhabitants, she was thrown from her horse, and was left outside the town’s gates as they closed. The Burgundians took her captive, and brought her amid much fanfare to the castle of Bouvreuil, occupied by the English commander at Rouen.

JOAN OF ARC: FROM WITCH TO SAINT
In the trial that followed, Joan was ordered to answer to some 70 charges against her, including witchcraft, heresy and dressing like a man. The Anglo-Burgundians were aiming to get rid of the young leader as well as discredit Charles, who owed his coronation to her. In attempting to distance himself from an accused heretic and witch, the French king made no attempt to negotiate Joan’s release.

In May 1431, after a year in captivity and under threat of death, Joan relented and signed a confession denying that she had ever received divine guidance. Several days later, however, she defied orders by again donning men’s clothes, and authorities pronounced her death sentence. On the morning of May 30, at the age of 19, Joan was taken to the old market place of Rouen and burned at the stake. Her fame only increased after her death, however, and 20 years later a new trial ordered by Charles VII cleared her name. Long before Pope Benedict XV canonized her in 1920, Joan of Arc had attained mythic stature, inspiring numerous works of art and literature over the centuries and becoming the patron saint of France.

joan-of-arc

JOAN YOU ROCK!

 

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Thanks for taking the time to read and if you have a story about a remarkable woman you would like to share, please feel free to leave your site information in the comments section.

bernadette

52 WEEKS OF THANKFULNESS – WEEK 21

52weekw

BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD.

I invite you to come and join me on this pilgrimage to change the world through thankfulness.  Perhaps if enough of us join together we can change the negative climate that exists and is overtaking our planet. Together we can move our fellow citizens of to a better, higher and finer place.

Two events of last week have found me thankful.  The first event is the peaceful transition of power after a bitterly fought election.  I am thankful to live in a country where our democracy is so valued that the acrimonious feelings of the losing side are put aside and our citizens and elected officials work together for the continued success of our democratic systems of government.    

The other event that happened last week was the news of the passing of Leonard Cohen.  I am so thankful to have lived in a time when Leonard Cohen was writing and recording his very thoughtful and ethereal music.  One of the most covered pieces of popular music is Halleluja.  

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah    

I hope that by writing these posts that we will move together beyond thankfulness into appreciation. Because appreciation for the moments and things for which we give thanks requires us to be mindful of our lives. “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future”   John F. Kennedy

At the end of the post you will find a link up frog and I hope you will join me on this venture and once a week write a post and link up to others and share what you are thankful for this week.

 Thank you for joining me today,
bernadette

PLEASE ADD YOUR POST AND TOGETHER WE WILL CHANGE THE WORLD.