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This article is taken from PN Review 28, Volume 9 Number 2, November - December 1982.

Heavenly and Earthly Intercalations Rachel Hadas

The Writer on Her Work: Contemporary Women Writers Reflect on their Art and Situation, edited with an introduction by Janet Sternburg (W. W. Norton, New York, 1980)


All our days are so unprofitable while they pass, that'tis wonderful where or when we ever got anything of this which we call wisdom, poetry, virtue. We never got it on any dated calendar day. Some heavenly days must have been intercalated somewhere, like those Hermes won with dice of the moon, that Osiris might be born.
Emerson, 'Experience'


THE source of the epigraph may raise hackles. If Emerson found that wisdom and poetry had to slip in between the chinks of the quotidian, who in the world was he to complain? What of all the Mrs Emersons, eternally busy with household chores their husbands scarcely thought about? Did women too-do women-achieve heavenly intercalations?

This book answers with a qualified Yes. The women writers gathered here plan, scheme, work hard for interludes snatched from the press of time. The leitmotif of The Writer on Her Work is hardly different from that of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea (1955): the struggle to find time and solitude amidst the complexity of women's lives. Since this book is by and about writers, the interludes of peace are spent, by its contributors, writing; but many of the pieces focus on the intransigence of the daily routine rather than the accomplished hours alone at ...


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