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Margaret Laurence

By Maggie Turner


November 23, 1999

Margaret Laurence

 Margaret Laurence

Margaret Laurence 1966

(King p 234)

 I have been reading a biography of a well-known Canadian author of this century. She is one of my favorite authors, Margaret Laurence. From what I gather, the recognition she received as a writer did not provide her with a life free of pain or self doubt. As someone whose creative efforts do not enjoy wide popularity, I harbor the illusion/delusion that recognition would automatically provide feelings of accomplishment, closure and confidence. Margaret Laurence's books are dearer to me because she was a fallible and sometimes troubled human being. I am glad that she wrote her books, I am sad that her creativity dominated her life.

The book is "The Life of Margaret Laurence" written by James King: previous books "The Last Modern: A Life of Herbert Read" or "William Blake: His Life".

There is one particular passage in this book that I felt inappropriate to a dicussion of the woman and her accomplishments.

"The Margaret Laurence remembered by most Canadians was a portly woman with a slightly severe look. The severity gave way to benignity as soon as the observer's own eyes focused on her beautiful eyes, which radiated gentleness and compassion. Her lack of attention to some aspects of her appearance was a necessary by-product of getting older and not being able to do too much about it. Two other factors have to be considered, however. After the break-up of her marriage, she did not entertain any real hope of finding a permanent male companion. To a limited extent, she gave up on her sexuality and, as a result, did not care very much about her weight, once a source of considerable preoccupation. Second, as she got older, Margaret had the opportunity to say to hell with the conventions of what is or is not an attractive woman. In her writing life, she had put herself on the line in a series of ambitious books. What did she care what other people thought of her appearance?" (King p 319)

The quotation above refers to Margaret Laurence in 1974, when she was just forty-eight years of age.

I will next read Margaret Laurence's memoirs, "Dance the Earth: A Memoir". Margaret Laurence died in January 1987 at the age of sixty in Lakefield, Ontario, Canada.


 

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