Paper Trail

Have you ever encountered a word or event you weren’t familiar with, looked it up and then only a day later encountered the same word in print again. It seems like a great coincidence at the time. Lately it seems that no matter what I am reading, the same people or events pop up!

I suppose I am reading books about the same era, but I keep finding mention of things that make me shout..”Hey, I just read about that!” In some cases it can be expected. Reading Emma Goldman’s biography, Living My Life, I would naturally find references to another activist involved in the labor movement, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. ( The Rebel Girl ).

However I was surprised that the book I read about Charlie Chan would include discussions of the anti-foreign sentiment that led to passing of the Immigration Act in 1924 and the forced deportation of Emma Goldman.

Reading The President and the Assassin, Emma Goldman appears as the person who may have inspired Leon Czolgosz to shoot President McKinley, albeit that Czolgosz  merely heard part of a speech she made that did not advocate violence.

I read the first book of in a series of three by Edmund Morris about the life of Theodore Roosevelt, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. Of course, the book ends when McKinley is shot, catapulting Vice President Roosevelt into the presidency! Again anarchist Leon Czolosz is discussed.

Now I am reading the biography of singer, actor, and labor leader Paul Robeson.

He meets  Emma Goldman in London around 1926 after she has become disillusioned with the state of the Russian revolution and and made a harrowing escape to Sweden and on to England. I feel excited when I find these ties throughout my reading as if I am a fellow traveller with these exciting persons. Paul expresses admiration for Emma and meeting her contributes to his growing social awareness.

When Paul Robeson goes to London and Paris, he takes a letter of introduction to meet the writer, Gertrude Stein. She is not so interested in Paul and ignores his wife Essie totally until she hears Paul sing and thereafter asks him to call from time to time. When I picked up A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, I again encountered a Gertrude Stein that was only civil to  those to whom she took a liking.

Emma Goldman

We are so fortunate to have our lives enriched by reading about such bold characters who lived what they believed in,  even if we can’t always agree with their actions. Emma Goldman was a fascinating person and a good writer. She held my attention for 996 pages! I especially  admired her because she had the courage to change her life totally not once, but twice, when she realized she wasn’t heading in the right direction. It takes courage to reject and negate all you have believed in the past and start again in a new direction.

Gertrude Stein


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. beckynielsen
    Aug 23, 2012 @ 11:50:48

    Love this literary journey, Leah! Will look for the book on Emma Goldman when I return and perhaps follow a similar path (paper trail) to yours! When you really immerse yourself in a period like that, you do get a larger understanding. I went to the Met to see the Stein collection a few months ago – it was fabulous. Gertrude was certainly a strong character – and what a great eye for art! But not a warm fuzzy kind of person!

    My sister in law said that her boss used the line “I reserve the right to get smarter later.” which applies to someone like Emma, who has the courage and wisdom to change course as she learns more.


  2. garledge
    Aug 23, 2012 @ 13:29:15

    Still wowed, and hope always to be, by connections. Leah, you have touched my heart with this literary gem. Becky sent it to me because I’ve been interested in your journey since she first told me about your writing. Beautiful blog, so glad I’ve signed up for it. Paul Robeson grew up in Princeton NJ, where his father was a most respected Baptist preacher. However P’ton was horribly segregated at the time, and despite the family’s reputation, young Paul was embittered there. I’m sad about that as my children were born there.
    Not to discount suffering for what I am inspired by is the possible result of suffering as the Buddha says in the Four Noble Truths: suffering happens. To me, it is what one does with suffering, my own suffering, and other’s that matters. All these people in this blog entry suffered and left a trail of light for us.


  3. todaysillustrationtomorrow
    Aug 23, 2012 @ 14:16:27

    I totally know what you’re talking about!
    Right now I’m reading (in English) Haruki Murakami’s essay “What I talk about when i talk about running,” and he talks about Hemingway’s writing technique (I just read A Moveable Feast by Hemingway too, and it’s all about his writing life in Paris)…and in another part of Murakami’s book he also talks about F. Scott Fitzerald and how his “Great Gatsby” is such a masterpiece (another connection here because Hemingway’s book goes into his friendship with Fitzgerald).
    I love when these synchronization happens!
    Your paper trail is pretty amazing!


    • garledge
      Aug 23, 2012 @ 22:26:53

      So far three of my FB friends have signed up for her blog. They read my comment then her blog. Talk about word of mouth! All were already followers of my blog btw. This is fun. g

      On Thu, Aug 23, 2012 at 10:16 AM, Japan Journal wrote:

      > ** > todaysillustrationtomorrow commented: “I totally know what you’re > talking about! Right now I’m reading (in English) Haruki Murakami’s essay > “What I talk about when i talk about running,” and he talks about > Hemingway’s writing technique (I just read A Moveable Feast by Hemingway > too, and it’s “


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