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3 things tagged “literature”

Gender Roles

Sofia Tolstoy, at 19, after the first of their thirteen children:

I am left alone morning, afternoon and night. I am to gratify his pleasure and nurse his child, I am a piece of household furniture. I am a woman. I try to suppress all human feelings. When the machine is working properly it heats the milk, knits a blanket, makes little requests and bustles about trying not to think — and life is tolerable. But the moment I am alone and allow myself to think, everything seems insufferable.

At 25:

I am so often alone with my thoughts that the need to write in my diary comes quite naturally […] Now I am well again and not pregnant — it terrifies me how often I have been in that condition. He said that for him being young meant “I can achieve anything.” For me […] reason tells me that there is nothing I either want or can do beyond nursing, eating, drinking, sleeping, and loving and caring for my husband and babies, all of which I know is happiness of a kind, but why do I feel so woeful all the time, and weep as I did yesterday? I am writing this now with the pleasantly exciting sense that nobody will ever read it, so I can be quite frank with myself […].

And:

I have served a genius for almost forty years. Hundreds of times I have felt my intellectual energy stir within me and all sorts of desires - a longing for education, a love of music and the art. And time and again I have crushed and smothered these longings. Everyone asks, “But why should a worthless woman like you need an intellectual or artistic life?” To this question I can only reply: “I don’t know, but eternally suppressing it to serve a genius is a great misfortune.”

Here’s more about her life and her diaries.

Home

So, here you are
too foreign for home
too foreign for here.
Never enough for both.

Ijeoma Umebinyuo, Questions for Ada

and

Home is not where you are born; home is where all your attempts to escape cease.

Naguib Mahfouz

Mama

For My Mother by May Sarton

Once more
I summon you
Out of the past
With poignant love,
You who nourished the poet
And the lover.
I see your gray eyes
Looking out to sea
In those Rockport summers,
Keeping a distance
Within the closeness
Which was never intrusive
Opening out
Into the world.
And what I remember
Is how we laughed
Till we cried
Swept into merriment
Especially when times were hard.
And what I remember
Is how you never stopped creating
And how people sent me
Dresses you had designed
With rich embroidery
In brilliant colors
Because they could not bear
To give them away
Or cast them aside.
I summon you now
Not to think of
The ceaseless battle
With pain and ill health,
The frailty and the anguish.
No, today I remember
The creator,
The lion-hearted.

💗

via Catherine