Mary Olivier: A Life

Mary Olivier A Life Originally published alongside Ulysses in the pages of the legendary Little Review Mary Olivier A Life is an intimate lacerating account of the ties between daughter and mother a book of transfixin

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  • Title: Mary Olivier: A Life
  • Author: May Sinclair Katha Pollitt
  • ISBN: 9781590174043
  • Page: 314
  • Format: ebook
  • Originally published alongside Ulysses in the pages of the legendary Little Review, Mary Olivier A Life is an intimate, lacerating account of the ties between daughter and mother, a book of transfixing images and troubling moral intelligence that confronts the exigencies and ambiguities of freedom and responsibility with empathy and power May Sinclair s finest novel stanOriginally published alongside Ulysses in the pages of the legendary Little Review, Mary Olivier A Life is an intimate, lacerating account of the ties between daughter and mother, a book of transfixing images and troubling moral intelligence that confronts the exigencies and ambiguities of freedom and responsibility with empathy and power May Sinclair s finest novel stands comparison with the work of Willa Cather, Katherine Mansfield, and the young Virginia Woolf.As a child, Mary Olivier s dreamy disposition and fierce intelligence set her apart from her Victorian family, especially her mother, Little Mamma, whose dazzling looks cannot hide her meager love for her only daughter Mary grows up in a world of her own, a solitude that leaves her free to explore her deepest passions, for literature and philosophy, for the austere beauties of England s north country, even as she continues to attend to her family But in time the independence Mary values at almost any cost threatens to become a form of captivity itself

    One thought on “Mary Olivier: A Life”

    1. A lovely autobiographical novel by an apparently neglected modernist writer. I am no expert on modernism, but his reminded me in parts of Virginia Woolf, particularly in three ways: the impressionistic early scenes in which Sinclair describes memories of being very young; the swift passing of time combined with descriptions of domestic life; and the struggles of an intelligent, talented woman trapped by the conventional thinking of her family and provincial neighbors. This is described as a stor [...]

    2. I was sure I would hate this book with a vengeance. For the first 50 pages or so I did, but slowly, slowly, I became entranced by May Sinclair's bold, brave and modern writing. Sure, very little actually happens in this novel by way of plot or action, but the author's skilful use of language is just a joy to read. Never have I underlined so many sections in a book of quotable lines; never have I encountered so many ideas packed into such a slim storyline. I can imagine this novel isn't for every [...]

    3. Breathtaking beauty inhabits every tiny little moment of this book, the story of a young genius learning, struggling, but building confidence and capacity layer by layer until she launches herself, confident, into her public. “There isn't any risk. This time it was clear, clear as the black pattern the sycamore makes on the sky. If it never came again I should remember.” What a fantastically inspirational text, in a way the high modernists, Woolf, and Joyce, and Pound and all the others, cou [...]

    4. This is a good book but so sad. It all about Mary and her mother and what makes it so sad is that her mother doesn't love her. She tries, at times, but is ultimately unsuccessful. I remember the part that made me the saddest is when Mary is still pretty young and she is begging for her mother to tell her that she loves her and her mother won't say it which is one of the saddest things I have ever read. Unloved children make me sad because they are so innocent and love so unconditionally. So, bec [...]

    5. This is a semi-autobiographical novel about growing up Victorian - more to the point, growing up as an intellectual GIRL in a very traditional Victorian household. I loved this more than anything I've read for a while. The book is divided into developmental sections - Infancy, Childhood, Adolescence, Maturity and Middle Age - and she beautifully changes the tone and voice of the narration to age and grow with her narrator. The Infancy section really evoked what it might have been like to be a to [...]

    6. Even though Mary Oliver affirms that the joy of living comes from inside the self, not from human relationships or any of the externals of individual experience, I found the book terribly sad. Sinclair is a remarkable writer as she describes the Mary's changing perceptions and understanding of her family and the world around her from her early childhood until her late middle age. Sinclair captures the pain of a brilliant, intellectual, late-Victorian woman, who is caught between societal expecta [...]

    7. Like Mary Olivier herself, this book is caught between the worlds of Victorian Realism with its sense of duty, tradition and clearly defined gender roles, and Modernism, with its experimental prose, strong images and focus on interiority. The overall feeling is one of ambiguity. Mary Olivier is filled with ellipses, missing information, and subjectivity, all of which make it more and more intriguing.

    8. Mary Olivier is a semi-autobiographical novel of the life of author May Sinclair. Well written- in a sort of stream-of-consciousness style, we follow Mary from birth to about age 40. Things do not turn out as expected for Mary- a husband does not appear, her fortune is not made. This book bogs down in the middle- a little more about Mary than we need to know.

    9. So compelling - so sad- lacerating. Amazing writing. I just finished it and now must sit silently with my pain for Mary.

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