Tuesday, May 09, 2006


"Life of Saint Mary Magdelen, 1904
Anonymous. Hawtrey, Valentina, translator.
John Lane: The Bodley Head, 1904
Decorative binding designed by Jessie M. King

OH MY GODDESS! What a day! e had showed me this auction that was up on ebay (knowing full well that I would freak out & need to have it "by any means necessary,") & sure enough that is exactly what happened... Today the auction (finally) ended at almost 2 A.M.. Are you wondering if we stayed awake to see it end? Let's just say that wild horses (or even heavy medication for that matter) couldn't have kept me away. As many of you probably know, the pressure can be incredible. In the last few hours we had to distract ourselves watching films so that I wouldn't have a complete melt down. Unfortunately the 2nd film wasn't able to do the job fully, so there i was, in the last 17 minutes, hitting the refresh button every couple of minutes... One day there will probably be a self-help group for ebayers who have gone over the edge (if there isn't one already,) and then they'll come up with a name for it: ebayaholic? ebayophile? any body else have any good ones? I almost lost it & increased the maximum bid in the last 10 minutes but decided that it was going to have to be okay one way or another. (And, besides, I felt that I was on "a mission from God/dess.) For all I knew there was some sniper waiting in the bushes with a couple of thousand ready to pounce on me. Luckily it wasn't necessary because, frankly, we collect books, not money. (If someone would've told me a year ago that one day I'd be spending so much on a single book I would've belly laughed!) All I knew was that I would raise this money some how, so I started making phone calls & got some backers.

Now that we've survived a tornado, I know that if it came down to it & there was some other disaster where I only had enough time to grab just one thing before I ran out the door, it would be this book. I'm thinking about making a box for it & placing it above my computer next to antique Last Supper print I found at a church rummage sale last year - it's one of the renditions showing the women at the table as women, not as efeminate-looking men without beards. Of course the women were there serving the food to the men! I mean, really...

I have been a Mary Magdalene "fan" since H.S. when I met my best friend who's name was Magdalene. I couldn't believe that her mother had named her after such a notorious woman so I asked her about it. She said that where her Mother was from in Mexico Mary Magdalene was not viewed as a prostitute, & that she was, instead, considered to be a Saint! This really floored me, especially since we were attending a pretty conservative Catholic high school. I secretly wanted to challenge Father Sweeney (our religion teacher) about how this could be possible. However, he was already challenged w/ my already over-the-top debating over the seeming contradictions within the New Testament. (Like how could The Church consider Mary, the Mother of Jesus as "ever-virgin" when the New Testament clearly states that she had children afer Jesus was born. Or how Joseph would've married her even though she was already pregnant. I can just imagine the scene "No, really, I wasn't with any one, honey, it was...uh, God! Yeah, that's it, God got me pregnant!" Yeah, right...Knowing the times women were subjected to endure during that period of our tedious existence, I doubt very much she wouldn't have just been stoned to death with a story like that.) Whenever poor Father Sweeney couldn't sufficiently explain my queries away, he would simply say "Look, we are supposed to take it on Faith, girl; it's not for us to try to understand these mysteries, they're way to complicated for our untrained minds - that's why we have The Church - to do this thinking for us!" Well, unfortunately (for him) that never really sated my appetite to uncover the truth (or obvious inconsistencies) & I would wait simply wait until class was over to continue my probe. I think it was particularly exasperating since I was an A student, and he couldn't just write me off as a trouble maker attempting to "rattle his cage," as my Dad would say. I've gotta hand it to him, for a fiery tempered ex-boxer from Ireland, he did pretty well... Perhaps deep inside he appreciated the interest in any case. I also was quite disgruntled that I wasn't allowed to be an "Altar Girl" (blasphemous even its very title which didn't even exist) while the notorious, brand-new-Lincoln-Continental-driving, drug-dealing sons of mafia gangsters in our school got the priveledge (& were known for falling asleep during Mass). As you can well imagine that this was one of those "mysteries" Father Sweeney would resort to telling me to take on faith. Hugh? That really boggled my teenage mind: "Why does The Church dislike women so much?" I would think.

This question lingered in my mind over the years until I came across the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail. Now this rang a lot truer for me than what I found in my Biblical studies. Of course Mary Magdalene wasn't what they said she was. Of course she was actually the wife of Jesus, this made perfect sense. Especially since that Jesus was at an age & position (Rabbai) where, by law, he would've been required to be married. He would've been in danger of violating Jewish law otherwise & they would've had a "real reason" to crucify him (and this is curious considering that Caesar clearly is perplexed over his troubled conscience because the blatant innocence of the Nazarene. And then in subsequent years, when hidden scrolls started to become unearthed, these questions have only intensified. Especially when it has been revealed that women's rightful place in spiritual history seems to have been highly edited.

My question, since meeting Magdelene Santiago in H.S. was "Why would The Church want to discredit Mary, and the position of women in general? Why was Eve labeled as The Temptress? Why are Catholic priests celebite (leading them into having to reduce themselves to taking on altar boys as sexual outlets)? What is the root of fear behind all of this? This fear of the most natural part of being human - our sexuality. What about "going forth and multiplying over the earth?" Without sex? And, what is the deal with blaming all the ills of our human existence on women? Surely we must be super powerful w/ so much suppression going on.

Being a woman growing up in the '60's and '70's with a Feminist as a Mother, this question lingers & will no doubt go unquenched until... ? Any clues, any map, any story, regardless of its "legitmacy" will not go unprobed or considered with great fervor. And, as I learned more about other groups who have been suppressed over time (Jews by the Nazis, African Americans, Salem Witches, the Native Americans, Ghandi, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lennon, John Kennedy,... the list is probably endless) I saw the corrolation between them - the common thread: when people are perceived to have a lot of power to influence the collective consciousness, other people want to have it for their own. And they will go to great lengths to ensure the realization of this, (and to silence them) including throwing them in prison or slandering their character, or even killing them.

But, I digress. So, back to the auction story. In any case, this volume would be mine. I knew this the minute I saw it. In the last day we were up against some rich guy who buys scuba gear & other high-priced recreational items, none of them even hinting at any kind of possible quest he was on. He probably has some over-sized diamond-fingered fiance he wants to impress. For me, however, this book is a piece of the grail, & I knew that it just couldn't fall into "the wrong hands."

When the auction ended, I decided to check my astro transits for the day. It seems that my sun is trining Venus right now & that any investment I make right now, especially in regards to antiques, etc., would be a good one! That topped the cake.

This will probably be the only time I ever make such a purchase, (unless there is another similar subject being unearthed). We're going to do research on this title & see if we can reprint it without copyright infringement. Yes, I'm on a mission...

If you'd like more info on this topic, click here: Magdalene

Or, if you'd like to find out more about the author of the introduction, click here: Vernon Lee


Anonymous peterf said...

You are having WAYYY too much fun ;-)
BTW, I'm a fellow addict!

Great to see Mick getting some play on the web...
love to all

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Scott Brown said...

Congratulations. You really should get sniperware, unless you really like staying up all night.

Have you figured out if this book is in copyright? I often have to determine the copyright status of something. I checked OCLC and they have the book listed as published simultaneously in New York and London. If that's true, you are home free. Anything published in the US before January 1, 1923 is out of copyright. If the book was only published in the UK, you have to figure out when Virginia Hawtrey (the translator) and Vernon Lee died. Copyright extends for 70 years after their deaths, so if they died by 1935, you're OK. Good luck!

8:28 PM  
Blogger Driftless Books and Music said...

i think she died in 1935.

thanks for the info.

we would love to republish it. still checking into that.

and we do enjoy staying up all night, somedays.


11:20 PM  

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