Why this book?
Olsen’s landmark book (1994) sheds light on how the writings and creativity of marginalized women and working-class people are often disenfranchised and the circumstances and forces that seek to silence them. I discovered her seminal ideas while in the midst of writing my Ph.D. dissertation at Gonzaga University on Helga Estby that emerged later as Bold Spirit. I was trying to figure out why her family burned hundreds of the pages Helga secretly wrote of her audacious journey across America. This evolved into my closing chapter in Bold Spirit on “the silencing of family stories,” which prompts readers to consider their own family silences. She raises important questions, especially for writers, on what nurtures creativity.
Why should I read it?
1 author picked Silences as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.
What is this book about?
A study of the crucial relationship between circumstances - of sex, economic class, colour, the times and climate into which one is born - and creativity. The book draws on the lives, letters, diaries and testimonies of writers such as Melville, Hardy, Blake and Rimbaud. Tillie Olsen focuses on the financial and cultural pressures which obstructed, or silenced, their work. She then turns to those who have lost most: women writers, their energies deflected into domesticity and motherhood; black American writers, only 11 of whom published more than two novels from 1850-1950.
- Coming soon!