By Jane Smiley

ISBN-10: 0307593789

ISBN-13: 9780307593788

A riveting new novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winner that traverses the intimate panorama of 1 woman’s lifestyles, from the Eighteen Eighties to international conflict II.

Margaret Mayfield is sort of an outdated maid at twenty-seven in post–Civil battle Missouri whilst she marries Captain Andrew Jackson Jefferson Early. He’s the main well-known guy their small city has ever produced: a naval officer and an excellent astronomer—a genius who, in line with the neighborhood paper, has replaced the universe. Margaret’s mom calls the fit “a piece of luck.”

Margaret is an efficient woman who has been raised to marry, but Andrew confounds her expectancies from the instant their educate leaves for his naval base in far flung California. quickly she involves remember the fact that his devotion to technology leaves useful little room for something, or somebody, else. whilst own tragedies strike and whilst nationwide crises envelop the rustic, Margaret stands by way of her husband. yet as international battle II ways, Andrew’s obsessions take a distinct, darker flip, and Margaret is compelled to re-examine the existence she has so conscientiously constructed.

Private existence is a stunning evocation of a woman’s internal international: of the little lady in the hopeful bride, of the younger girl packed with craving, and of the devoted spouse who involves harbor a perilous mystery. however it can be a heartbreaking portrait of marriage and the mysteries that undergo even in lives lived part by means of facet; a wondrously evocative old landscape; and, principally, a masterly, unforgettable novel from one in every of our best storytellers.

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72 From the Profession of Authorship to the Business of Letters 33 The idea that commodities other than money functioned within discrete economies in the same way that money did within the world of commerce was, in fact, not lost on literary practitioners in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many of whom were members of the business community as well as the community of letters, and who perceived the often-striking parallels between their avocational and vocational pursuits. Indeed, the metaphors used in the critical discourse of the early republic sometimes anticipate Bourdieu’s concept of diverse capitals in an eerily prescient fashion.

34 As late as the early 1850s, in fact, Nathaniel P. ”35 That one would need to be discouraged from seeking a professional living through amateur authorship simply underscores the idea that these words signified quite differently in the antebellum period than they do now. By the 1840s, it is true, some critics had started to make a distinction between professional and amateur authors. 36 Yet even the announcement of such a conceptual distinction represented a minority perspective within the occupational taxonomies of the decade, as Willis’s letter to his sister made clear, and the comprehensive polemic in which this writer engaged in denouncing the masses of amateur authors suggests that many refused to participate in this new occupational zero sum game.

My reasons for veering into this ostensibly arcane debate are twofold. In the first place, it allows me to summarize my arguments to this point while placing them in a larger and far more suggestive frame of reference. Second, and more importantly, it adds to them a developmental, historicist edge and offers a theoretical vantage from which to create a new narrative about authorial economies to replace the old story of professionalization I have discussed above. With these two thoughts in mind, then, let us turn to the debate itself.

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Private Life by Jane Smiley


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