Basic Plot Summary: Harold Durham has just been dumped by Lilian "Lily" Maines because she couldn't "give up my friends and my convictions for you" (p. 134). Lily is part of the suffrage movement, and we find that Harold attempted to attend a meeting (p. 110) but found the women coarse. He is surprised to learn Lily is pro-suffrage, as her hair is not cut short (p. 142).
Traveling from Chicago to Xerxes to repair his father's tenement buildings, Harold meets Father Quinnailion and befriends him, after struggling a lot with his image of what Catholics are like versus the example Father Q. shows him. After he realizes that Catholics are not horrible heretics who pray to Mary and other saints, he realizes, too, that he was wrong to want to force Lily to "convert" and give up her principles.
I been unjust and cruel to you? By Jove, I'm not only a bigot but a snob; I needed Father Quinnailon to take the worldliness out of me . What right had I to ask Lily to give up her principles? It was just the same conceited stuff as my wanting those poor creatures in the church to give up the religion which helps them to bear their hard lives! (p. 171)
McMichael, interestingly, doesn't discuss or analyze this story. This is significant given his overall argument that Thanet was anti-suffrage for women. This story seems to present things in a more complex light--Harold and Lily reconcile at the end and true love wins, despite the differences in principles.
My entertainment this morning is Octave Thanet's An Adventure in Photography, published in 1893. This book is for purchase, and I can snag a signed first edition for around $125 (granted, the description indicates it needs to be rebound) or an unsigned for $40.
The book opens with a lovely indication of Octave and Jane's relationship, and the narrative parts of the book are a sweet glimpse into their home life and common interests, complete with dialogue.
THPlenty of pictures here of Thanford and surrounding areas in Clover Bend, including this one, which strikes me on a personal level. My paternal grandfather was a tenant farmer in Arkansas.
I have many reasons for my starts and stops on this project; understandably when it was necessary for me to work for other people during Dani's medical school and residency, I simply didn't have the time or emotional energy to work on it consistently.
However, I'm also very aware that one factor contributing to the seventeen year gap between declaring I would pursue the project and yesterday when I finally sat down and started is that Octave Thanet is a contradictory character and there's a ton of things about her that are going to be uncomfortable. The very fact that she owned a plantation in Arkansas is prickly for me, as is her fairly well-documented anti-suffrage position.
But, that's the goal of this journey--to figure her out. Her one published biography is older than I am, after all, and perhaps a fellow lesbian and Arkansan by choice can add to our understanding of her life and how she lived it.
About this project:
I've been saying since 2004 that I was going to write a critical biography of Octave Thanet (Alice French). This blog is the start of that work and will include notes, links to research, and other OT related tidbits.