Margaret C Anderson a daring rebel of a woman!

March 11, 2021


                                                                 

Margaret C Anderson ( November 3,1886—October 18, 1973) was a daring headstrong writer and founder of a literary magazine called The Little Review. This journal was dedicated to the best writing and art of the twentieth century. Many prominent writers such as Carl Sandburg, T.S Eliot, Ezra Pound contributed their writings to The Little Review for no payment.

Margaret was later known as one of the women of the rope. They were women writers and artists who studied with the famous Russian mystic Gurdjieff. They were part of a group seeking transformation and possible enlightenment.

Early life and escape to Chicago

Margaret was born in Indianapolis, Indiana to the parents of Arthur Anderson and Jessie Shortridge. She was the oldest of three girls in an upper middle class family. She grew up in a boring bourgeois household that she was dying to escape.

 She studied at Western College for Women in Oxford Ohio. When school ended she convinced her family to let her go to Chicago with her sister. Chicago was a bustling, wild city so different from Indiana. Margaret loved it. She spent her family’s income on coffee, chocolate and fine clothes. She bought flowers, books and beautiful furniture. She attended concerts and performances with the best seats in the house. There were performances of Mary Garden, Isadora Duncan, Toscanini and many others that opened Margaret’s consciousness to the best and highest aspirations in art.

 She found work with Ms. Clara Laughlin a well known writer and editor who gave Margaret her first writing job. She started meeting writers, artists, anarchists and bohemians living for art and ideas. Her dream came crashing down when her parents decided to move her back to Indiana because she was spending all their money.  Margaret argued with them and would not take no for an answer. Her parents finally consented to let her move back to Chicago if she could support herself. She found work at the Dial magazine but eventually grew restless.

  She woke up one night very depressed and knew she needed inspiration to live. That is when the idea of a journal dedicated to all the arts came to her. It would be a life of service to the highest literature and beauty. She started The Little Review in 1914 with many obstacles such as funding and finding help getting it published. She was able to secure an office in the beautiful Chicago Fine Arts building.

 At one point she published the writings of Emma Goldman and lost backers, funding, her office and home. The public considered Goldman to be an anarchist in reality she was a feminist.  Margaret never compromised and became resourceful. She convinced her sister to live with her on the shores of Lake Michigan in tents with wooden floors. Writers and artists would pin their works on the tent flaps if they were not home. They would swim in the mornings and drink coffee and have breakfast on the beach. Margaret had one clean suit she wore in the city that she would wash every evening. They camped on the shores until November when the cold rains came.

Jane Heap enters

Jane Heap a cross-dressing talented artist joined the staff of The Little Review. She had short hair, dressed like Oscar Wilde and had the wit to match. Margaret was enthralled when she met her. It felt like destiny. They became lovers and Jane helped edit the journal. She was different from Margaret yet they complemented each other. Margaret had found the one person that understood her ideas. She felt Jane had an incredible mind and she wanted to utilize it for The Little Review. They would talk, discuss and argue ideas chiefly about art. Margaret found a wick for her flame and Jane sent her ablaze with new energy.

Margaret and Jane had high standards of what was going to be in The Little Review.  In one issue they were not happy with the submissions so they published 64 pages of blank white paper. They did put some drawings in of what they had been doing such as riding horses, collecting firewood and discussing and arguing over breakfast

European Writers and James Joyce

 In 1917 the European poet Ezra Pound joined The Little Review. He was able to get contributions from writers such as Aldous Huxley, William Butler Yeats, James Joyce and many others. Margaret and Jane loved Joyce’s Ulysses and published segments of the novel in The Little Review .America was not ready for Joyce and this led to being charged with obscenity. Margaret and Jane did not worry about censors and felt Ulysses should be published for the great prose and beauty. The post office confiscated the issue with Joyce and fined them fifty dollars. Margaret recognized the genius in Ulysses and tried to battle through the public’s ignorance but felt Joyce was a tremendous loss. She got discouraged and tired of people who had no taste for beauty. They edited and published The Little Review for eleven years.

Women of the Rope

Margaret eventually left. She became exhausted of the fight to publish beautiful art and prose. She realized she couldn’t keep up the fight with the ignorant public. Jane Heap became sole editor and publisher.

 Margaret moved to France with the singer Georgette Le Blanc .They  struck up a tremendous friendship and became lovers in spite of the fact Georgette was the ex mistress of the famous writer Maurice Maeterlinck.(The Blue bird)

 Margaret, Georgette and later Jane became part of a group known as The Women of the Rope. They were woman writers and artists searching for enlightenment by studying the teachings of the great mystic G I Gurdjieff in Paris and Fontainebleau France.  This included Solita Solano, Kathryn Hulme,  Alice Roher  and Elizabeth Gordon .  Gurjieff’s teaching appealed to women artists.He could be very strict but had a sly sense of humor. Solita Salano had written a detailed, fascinating book about their experience with the famous mystic called  Guedjieff and the Woman of the Rope. Notes of meetings in Paris and New York.

    ”  You are going on a journey under my guidance, an inner- world journey like a high mountain climb where you must be roped together for safety, where each must think of the others on the rope, all for one and one for all.”( Gurdjieff And The Women Of The Rope)

The writer Katherine Mansfield also studied with Gurdjieff but was not part of the group. She felt that Gurdjieff”s teaching gave her hope during her illness.  His teaching affected  all of their lives and taught them a new way of seeing that would help them with later difficulties. Margaret wrote a book about him called The Unknowable Guedjieff.

Later Years and the war

Margaret and Georgette lived in a lighthouse in France. She writes about this time almost like a fairy tale where the days blend with the evening in light, flowers, wonderful meals, coffee and wine. She felt that she could just be with Georgette and her essence was sweet, creative and kind. Margaret knew Georgette was a visionary  artist/mystic and was devastated when she was diagnosed with Cancer. They had to move out of Paris because war was starting and Georgette needed help. They moved from town to town until they ended up in Le Chalet Rose near Cannes. Ernest Hemingway gave them some money to live on since they were down to nothing. Georgette died in 1941.

Margaret was heartbroken and secured a passport to go back to the United States. She met Dorothy Caruso the widow of the famous tenor Enrico Caruso. They became companions and traveled together.

Margaret had lived a full and exciting life on her terms. She had broken barriers in literature, art and wasn’t afraid to show her preference for women. She died in Le Cannet, France in 1973. France to her was the best country with the most dazzling light.

Quotes

  • My greatest enemy is reality and I have fought it successfully for thirty years.
  • This is the most beautiful thing we’ll ever have to publish. Let us print it if it’s the last effort of our lives!

    -on publishing Ulysses”
  • Life is just one ecstasy after another
  • Why limit me to ecstasy (Jane Heap)

Books

  • My Thirty Years War
  • The Fiery Fountains
  • The Strange Necessity
  • The Unknowable Gurdjieff

I will be doing an essay on Margaret C Anderson. There will be a link to the documentary I am working on.

August 19, 2020

Robert Bresson

August 19, 2020

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The Ice Forest

May 20, 2020

The Ice Forest is not always seen. It is a place between dreams and is very far North. There are otherworldly creatures that live there and can point out our destiny. They are sometimes kind and sometimes cruel depending on what we need.

The ice forest.

May 20, 2020

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A cool spring with signs of life everywhere.The groundhog was photographed at the high school where I do a lot of walking. There are no students just construction and nature abounding. I am hoping things will resume in September but am feeling doubtful with good reason. Now more than ever we should look to the spiritual masters, great writers and artists. If you look at history there was always change and turbulence.I think of the quote from Chekhov The Three Sisters. “The music sounds so happy so positive it makes you want to live. Oh dear God. The day will come when we’ll go away forever too. People will forget all about us, they will forget what we looked like and what are voices sounded like and how many of us there were, but our suffering will turn to joy for the people who live after us, and they will remember us kindly and bless us. My dears, my dear sisters life isn’t over yet but we have to go on living. The music sounds so happy, so joyful, it almost seems a minute more, and we would know why we live, why we suffer. If only we knew. If only we knew!”

May 14, 2020

April 9, 2020

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Spring is in the air even though we are all in a transition period with our lives. When I look to the great artists there were tremendous obstacles in their lives even though they had visions that would propel humankind forward. Humans do not want to go forward we want to cling to the past for comfort and security. I think that is why so many artists and thinkers were considered strange and misfits. They had these visions of beauty and other worlds and no one wanted to hear such nonsense when people had families and jobs to tend to. It is the same today. How do we live for a life of the spirit and art in spite of all the responsibilities and distractions. There must be a way.

April 9, 2020

As spring comes marching in in spite of the chaos that is surrounding us it reminds us that there is an eternal forward movement in nature and this might be what we look to instead of the news that is terrifying. I don’t mean to deny the horrors either. Now is the time to take care of ourselves , the animals and the environment. Look to the great writers, scholars and artists for inspiration not some stupid television personality. I am not crazy about contemporary writers but I think the classics and fairy tales contain great wisdom. ” The true poet is like a man who is happy anywhere, in endless measure, if he’s allowed to look at leaves and grass, to see the sun rise and set.”

April 8, 2020

This is a beautiful drawing of the world I dream of. The one of childhood where we knew what was real. The vast land of dreams and other worlds of fairies and such magic that we knew this was our true home. This is the place we need to create from.

April 6, 2020

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