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Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Two Selves of Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

‘…every woman needs ‘a room of her own’ — not simply to separate her from husband and children but also to separate her two selves...’ (1978) echoing Virginia Woolf at Smith College USA in a speech entitled 'The Journey Not the Arrival’ : Anne Morrow Lindbergh

As is the way of things, I found a battered blue hardback book on the bookshelves in my little study. It had a label stuck on the spine with faded writing. Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Gift from the Sea. It is written in my writing, so this must be my book. But I didn’t put it there. We did have a big sort out of books both upstairs and down but this book certainly didn’t emerge. Perhaps it’s been placed by the household ghost (another story there…) who is urging me to read it, despairing of my present state of being which rather resembles an over-wound clock.

This book is the modest 1955 edition of a book which has sold, allegedly, over three million copies in 45 different languages. There have been many editions since and I think it is still in print. Up till this week it was never in my mind. I might have owned it but I never read it.

Of course people of my generation are aware of the Lindberghs. There have been books and films … When I mentioned the name my friend Gillian said, ‘Oh yes! James Stewart! In The Spirit of St Louis’ This was the 1957 film telling the story of fold that followed Lindbergh’s 33 hour solo transatlantic flight in 1927. He was a hero of the inter-war generation.

In her memoir Anne Morrow Lindberg tells us of the tall, lanky, handsome figure towering over social gatherings when she as a very young woman, fell in love with this apparently shy quite hero. He taught her to fly and she flew with him on expeditions charting new routes for airlines. They had several children but in 1932 suffered the tragedy of the world wide exposure during the kidnap and murder of their eldest son.
Lindbergh, impressed technological superiority of Nazi Germany, as late as In 1938, accepted a German medal of honour from Hermann Goering and proceeded to accuse British, Jewish, and pro-Roosevelt groups were leading America into war. He was later reinstated and took active part in the anti-German effort.

Anne seems to have lived quietly alongside all this surrogate adulation, fame, notoriety and drama, being the good mother and wife and writing of her own endeavours in North to The Orient, written between 1931 and 1935.
But then, visiting an island, trying to find inner piece she started to write, separating her ‘two selves'. She says I began these pages for myself, in order to think out my own particular pattern of living, my own individual palace of life, work and human relationships. And since I think best with a pencil in my hand I started naturally to write.’ (Anne Morrow Lindbergh: a Gift from The Sea.)
And this she did, using shells as the symbols of the progress of her thinking.
The book must have hit a universal chord – particularly among women – because as I said over three million copies have been read in 45 different languages.
If you are interested I have written about what Gift from The Sea says, and how AML says it, on my writing blog A Life Twice Tasted.

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