Rose Wilder Lane: Wikis

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Rose Wilder Lane

Born December 5, 1886(1886-12-05)
De Smet, Dakota Territory
Died October 30, 1968 (aged 81)
Danbury, Connecticut
Occupation Writer, political theorist
Nationality American
Writing period 1914–1963
Notable work(s) The Discovery of Freedom, Little House on Rockey Ridge

Rose Wilder Lane (December 5, 1886, De Smet, Dakota Territory – October 30, 1968, Danbury, Connecticut) was an American journalist, travel writer, novelist, and political theorist. She is noted (with Ayn Rand and Isabel Paterson) as one of the founding mothers of the American libertarian movement and is also considered one of the seminal forces behind the American Libertarian Party.[1]

Contents

Early life and schooling

Rose Wilder Lane was the first child of Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder and Almanzo Wilder (and their only child to survive into adulthood). Lane's early years were difficult ones for her parents, the result of successive crop failures, illnesses and chronic economic hardships. During her childhood, Lane moved with her family several times, living with relatives in Minnesota and then Florida, briefly returning to De Smet, South Dakota, before the family finally settled in Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894, where her parents eventually established a dairy and fruit farm. Lane attended high schools in Mansfield and Crowley, Louisiana, (where her father's sister, Eliza Jane Wilder Thayer, had settled), graduating in 1904. Her intellect and ambition were demonstrated by her ability to compress three years of Latin into one, and by graduating at the top of her high school class in Crowley. Despite this academic success, her parents' financial situation placed college out of reach and her formal schooling was over.

Early career, marriage, divorce

After high school graduation she returned to her parents' farm and learned telegraphy at the Mansfield railroad station where the station master was the father of a school friend. Before she was eighteen Wilder was working for Western Union in Kansas City as a telegrapher. She worked as a telegrapher in Missouri, Indiana and California for the next five years.

In 1909, she married salesman and occasional newspaperman Claire Gillette Lane. Around 1910, Lane bore a son who was either stillborn or died shortly after birth. Complications from subsequent surgery appear to have left Lane unable to bear more children. The details of the child's death remain vague; the topic is mentioned only briefly in a handful of existing letters, written years later to express sympathy and understanding to close friends who were also dealing with the loss of a child.

For the next few years Lane and her husband traveled around the US working various marketing and promotional schemes. Letters to her parents described a happy-go-lucky existence with both Lane and her husband traversing the US several times and working a variety of jobs, both together and separately. However, in diary entries and subsequent published autobiographical pieces concerning this time, Lane described herself as depressed and disillusioned with her marriage, caught in the tension arising from the recognition that her intelligence and interests did not mesh with the life she was living with her husband. One account even had her attempting suicide by drugging herself with chloroform, only to awake with a headache and a renewed sense of purpose in life.

Keenly aware of her lack of a formal education, during this time Lane read voraciously and taught herself several languages. Her writing career began around 1910, with occasional free-lance newspaper jobs that earned much needed extra cash. Between 1912 and 1914, Lane - one of the earliest female real estate agents in California - and her husband sold farm land in what is now the San Jose/Silicon Valley area of northern California. It made sense for the two to work separately to earn separate commissions, and Lane turned out to be the better salesperson of the two. The marriage foundered, there were several periods of separation, and eventually an amicable divorce. Lane's diaries reveal subsequent romantic involvements with several men in the years after her divorce, but she never remarried.

The threat of America's entry into World War I had seriously weakened the real estate market, so in early 1915 Lane accepted a friend's offer of a stopgap job as an editorial assistant on the staff of the San Francisco Bulletin. The stopgap turned into a watershed. She immediately caught the attention of her editors not only through her talents as a writer in her own right, but also as an extremely skillful editor for other writers. Before long, Rose Wilder Lane's photo and byline were running in the Bulletin daily. She easily churned out formulaic romantic fiction serials that would run for weeks at a time. Her accounts of the lives of Henry Ford, Charlie Chaplin, Jack London, and Herbert Hoover (who became a lifelong friend) were published in book form.

Also in 1915, Lane's mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder, visited for several months. Together they attended the Panama-Pacific International Exposition; many details of this visit and Lane's daily life in 1915 are preserved in Wilder's letters to her husband and are available in West From Home, published by Lane's heir in 1974. Although Lane's diaries indicate she was separated from her husband in 1915, Wilder's letters do not indicate this. Gillette Lane was recorded as living with his wife, although unemployed and looking for work during his mother-in-law's two month visit. It seems the separation was either covered up for her mother's visit, or had not yet involved separate households.

Launches free-lance writing career

By 1918, Lane's marriage was officially ended and she had quit her job with the San Francisco Bulletin to launch a career as a free-lance writer. From this period through the early 1940s, Lane's work regularly appeared in leading publications such as Harper's, Saturday Evening Post, Sunset, Good Housekeeping, and Ladies' Home Journal. Several of her short stories were nominated for O. Henry Prizes and a few novels became top sellers.

Rose Wilder Lane was also the first biographer of Herbert Hoover, writing The Making of Herbert Hoover in 1920 in collaboration with Charles K. Field, editor of Sunset magazine. She was a friend and defender of Hoover for the remainder of her life, and many of her personal papers are now in the Rose Wilder Lane Collection at the Herbert Hoover Library in West Branch, Iowa. Lane's papers contain little actual correspondence between Hoover and herself, but the Hoover Post-Presidential Individual series contains a file of Lane correspondence that spans from 1936-1963. [2]

In the late 1920s, she was reputed to be one of the highest-paid female writers in America, and counted among her friends figures such as Herbert Hoover, Sinclair Lewis, Dorothy Thompson and Lowell Thomas. Despite this success, Lane's compulsive generosity with her family and friends often found her strapped for cash and forced to work on material that paid well, but did not engage her growing interests in political theory and world history. She suffered from periodic bouts of self-doubt and depression in mid-life, diagnosing herself as manic-depressive (now more commonly known as bipolar disorder). During these times of depression, when she was unable to move ahead with her own writing, Lane would easily find work as a ghostwriter or "silent" editor for other well-known writers.

Lane's occasional work as a traveling war correspondent began with a stint with the American Red Cross Publicity Bureau in post-WWI Europe and continued though 1965, when at the age of 78, she was reporting from Vietnam for Woman's Day magazine, providing "a woman's point of view." She traveled extensively in Europe and Asia as part of the Red Cross. In 1926, Lane, Helen Dore Boylston and their French maid traveled from France to Albania in a car they had named "Zenobia". An account of the journey, Travels With Zenobia: Paris to Albania by Model T Ford was published in 1983. Lane became enamored with Albania, and lived there for several long periods during the 1920s, spaced between sojourns to Paris and her parents' Rocky Ridge Farm in Missouri. She informally adopted a young Albanian boy named Rexh Meta, who she claimed saved her life on a dangerous mountain trek; she later sponsored his education at Oxford University in England.

In 1928, Lane returned to the U.S. to live on her parents' farm and there she took in and educated two local orphaned brothers. In 1938, Lane purchased a rural home outside of Danbury, Connecticut, where she spent the remainder of her life.

Literary collaboration

Lane's exact role in her mother's famous Little House series of books has remained unclear. A contributing factor was the stock market crash of 1929, which wiped out both Lane's and her parents' investments. The ensuing Great Depression further reduced the market for her writing, and she found herself isolated and depressed at Rocky Ridge Farm, struggling to maintain her commitments to support herself, her adopted children and her elderly parents, who had retired from active farming with Lane's encouragement and financial support. Her ghostwriting jobs increased at this time, because her depression tended to affect her ability to generate ideas for her own writing projects.

In late 1930, her mother approached her with a rough manuscript outlining her hardscrabble pioneer childhood. Lane, using her well-developed sense of what was marketable, took notice. She recognized that an American public weary of the Depression would respond warmly to the story of the loving, self-sufficient and determined Ingalls family overcoming obstacles while maintaining their sense of independence, as told through the eyes of the spunky Laura as she matured from ages five to eighteen.

It is unclear whether Laura Ingalls Wilder was a naturally skilled novelist who somehow never discovered her own talents until her sixties, with Lane's only contribution to her mother's success her encouragement and her established connections in the publishing world, or if Lane essentially took her mother's unpublishable raw manuscripts in hand and completely (and silently) ghostwrote the series of books we know today. The truth appears to lie somewhere between these two positions — Wilder's writing career as a rural journalist and credible essayist began more than two decades before the Little House series, and Lane's formidable editing and ghostwriting skills are well-documented. The existing evidence (including ongoing correspondence between the women concerning the development of the multi-volume series, Lane's extensive personal diaries detailing the time she spent working on the manuscripts, and Wilder's own initial draft manuscripts) tends to reveal an ongoing mutual collaboration that involved Lane more extensively in the earlier books, and to a much lesser extent by the time the series ended, as Wilder's confidence in her own writing ability increased, and Lane was no longer living at Rocky Ridge Farm. Lane insisted to the end that she considered her role to be little more than that of an adviser to her mother, despite much documentation to the contrary. Wilder did not keep copies of her correspondence with Lane, but Lane kept carbon copies of virtually everything she ever wrote—including the correspondence with her mother concerning the Little House Books. The correspondence shows that Wilder sometimes adamantly refused to accept some of her daughter's suggestions, and at other times gratefully accepted them.

Lane's editing and ghostwriting skills brought the dramatic pacing, literary structure, and characterization needed to make the stories publishable in book form. In fact, this collaboration benefited Lane's career as much as her mother's – many of Lane's most popular short stories and her two most commercially successful novels were written at this time and were fueled by material which was taken directly from her mother's recollections of Ingalls-Wilder family folklore—Let the Hurricane Roar (later retitled Young Pioneers) and Free Land, both addressed the difficulties of homesteading in the Dakotas in the late 1800s, and how the "free land" in fact cost many homesteaders their life savings. The Saturday Evening Post paid Lane large fees to serialize both novels, and both were also adapted for highly popular radio performances.

Columnist for a black newspaper: The Pittsburgh Courier

During World War II, Lane had one of the most remarkable, but little studied, phases of her career. From 1942 to 1945, she wrote a weekly column for The Pittsburgh Courier, the most widely read American black newspaper. Through it, she reached several times more readers than just about anything else she wrote during this period. Each issue had a circulation of 270,000 while the total print run of The Discovery of Freedom during Lane’s lifetime was only about one thousand.[3]

Rather than hiding or trimming her laissez faire views, she seized the chance to sell them to the readership. She sought out topics of special interests of her audience. Her first entry glowingly characterized the Double V Campaign as part of the more general fight for individual liberty in American history. "Here, at last, is a place where I belong," she wrote of her new job. "Here are the Americans who know the value of equality and freedom." Her columns highlighted black success stories to illustrate broader themes about entrepreneurship, freedom, and creativity. In one, she compared the accomplishments of Robert Vann and Henry Ford. Vann’s rags to riches story illustrated the benefits in a "capitalist society in which a penniless orphan, one of a despised minority can create The Pittsburgh Courier and publicly, vigorously, safely, attack a majority opinion" while Ford’s showed how a poor mechanic can create "hundreds of jobs ... putting even beggars into cars."[3]

She combined advocacy of laissez faire and antiracism. The views she expressed on race were remarkably similar to those of black writer, and fellow individualist, Zora Neale Hurston. Lane's columns emphasized the arbitrariness of racial categories and stressed the centrality of the individual. Instead of indulging in the "ridiculous, idiotic and tragic fallacy of 'race,' [by] which a minority of the earth's population has deluded itself during the past century", it was time for all Americans (black and white) to "renounce their race". Judging by skin color was comparable to the Communists who assigned guilt or virtue on the basis of class. In her view, the fallacies of race and class hearkened to the "old English-feudal ‘class’ distinction." The collectivists, including the New Dealers, were to blame for filling "young minds with fantasies of 'races' and 'classes' and 'the masses,' all controlled by pagan gods, named Economic Determinism or Society or Government."[3]

The Discovery of Freedom

Around 1940, despite continuing requests from editors for both fiction and non-fiction material, Lane turned away from commercial writing and became known as one of the more influential American libertarians of the middle 20th century. She vehemently opposed the New Deal, creeping socialism, Social Security, wartime rationing and all forms of taxation, claiming she ceased writing highly paid commercial fiction in order to protest paying income taxes. She cut her income and expenses to the bare minimum, and lived a modern-day version of her ancestors' pioneer life on her rural land near Danbury, Connecticut.

A staunch opponent of communism after experiencing it first hand in the Soviet Union during her Red Cross travels, she wrote the seminal The Discovery of Freedom (1943), and tirelessly promoted and wrote about individual freedom, and its impact on humanity. As Lane grew older, her political opinions solidified as a fundamentalist libertarian, and her defense of what she considered to be basic American principles of liberty and freedom could become harsh and abrasive in the face of disagreement.

Later years

During the late 1940s and through the 1950s, Lane played a hands-on role in launching the "libertarian movement", a term she apparently coined. She wrote book reviews for the National Economic Council and later for the Volker Fund, out of which grew the Institute for Humane Studies. Later, she lectured at, and gave generous financial support to, the Freedom School headed by libertarian Robert LeFevre.[3]

With her mother's death in 1957, use of the Rocky Ridge Farm house reverted to the farmer who had earlier bought the surrounding land. The local townfolk put together a non-profit corporation to purchase the house and its grounds, for use as a museum. After some wariness at the notion of seeing the house rather than the books themselves be a shrine to her mother, Lane came to believe that making a museum of it would draw long-lasting attention to the books. She donated the money needed to purchase the house and make it a museum, agreed to make significant contributions each year for its upkeep and also gave many of the family's belongings to help establish what became a popular museum which still draws thousands of visitors each year to Mansfield.[4] Her lifetime inheritance of Wilder's growing Little House royalties put an end to Lane's self-enforced modest lifestyle; she began to travel extensively again, and thoroughly renovated and remodeled her Connecticut home. Also during the 1960s, Lane revived her own commercial writing career by publishing several popular magazine series, including one about her remarkable tour of the Vietnam war zone in late 1965.

Lane wrote an immensely popular book detailing the history of American needlework (with a strong libertarian undercurrent) for Woman's Day and edited and published On The Way Home, providing an autobiographical setting around her mother's original 1894 diary of their six week journey from South Dakota to Missouri. This book was intended to serve as the capstone to the Little House series, for those many fans who since Wilder's death were now writing to Lane asking, "what happened next?". She contributed book reviews to the influential William Volker Fund, and continued to work on extensive revisions to The Discovery of Freedom, which she never completed.

Lane was the adoptive "grandmother" and mentor to Roger MacBride, best known as the Libertarian Party's 1976 candidate for President of the United States. MacBride was the son of one of Lane's editors with whom she formed a close bond when he was a young boy; she later admitted that she was grooming him to be a future Libertarian thought leader. In addition to being her close friend, he also became her attorney and business manager and ultimately the heir to the Little House series and the multi-million dollar franchise that he built around it after Lane's death. MacBride was the author of the spinoff The Rose Years Little House Series, a multi-part semi-fictional re-telling of Rose's life from the age of seven to nineteen.

The last of the many protégés to be taken under Lane's wing was the sister of her Vietnamese interpreter; impressed by the young girl's intelligence, she helped to bring her to the United States and sponsored her enrollment in college.[5]

Lane died in her sleep at the age of eighty-one, on October 30, 1968, just as she was about to depart on a three-year world tour. Ten years after her passing, ABC ran a three-episode miniseries The Young Pioneers, starring Linda Purl and Roger Kern as newlyweds in the Dakota Territory during the 1870s and based on a compilation of Lane's novels.

References

  1. ^ Powell, Jim (May 1996). "Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Paterson, and Ayn Rand: Three Women Who Inspired the Modern Libertarian Movement". http://fee.org/publications/the-freeman/article.asp?aid=3345. Retrieved 2008-03-14.  
  2. ^ Lane, Rose Wilder. "Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum." Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum. June 1999. (accessed November 10, 2008).
  3. ^ a b c d Beito, David T. and Linda Royster Beito. "Isabel Paterson, Rose Wilder Lane, and Zora Neale Hurston on War, Race, the State, and Liberty." Independent Review, 12. Spring 2008).
  4. ^ Holtz, William, The Ghost in the Little House, University of Missouri Press, 1995, p 340, retrieved 12 January 2009
  5. ^ Holtz, William (May 1995). The Ghost in the Little House. University of Missouri Press. pp. 448. ISBN 0-8262-1015-5.  

Bibliography

  • The Story of Art Smith (1915) (biography)
  • Henry Ford's Own Story (1917) (biography)
  • Diverging Roads (1919) (fiction)
  • White Shadows on the South Seas (with Frederick O'Brien) (1919) (non-fiction travel)
  • The Making of Herbert Hoover (1920) (biography)
  • The Peaks of Shala (1923) (non-fiction travel)
  • He Was A Man (1925) (fiction)
  • Hillbilly (1925) (fiction)
  • Cindy (1928) (fiction)
  • Let the Hurricane Roar (1932) (fiction) now better known as Young Pioneers.
  • Old Home Town (1935) (fiction)
  • Give Me Liberty AKA Credo (1936) (political history)
  • Free Land (1938) (fiction)
  • The Discovery of Freedom (1943) (political history) adapted in 1947 as The Mainspring of Human Progress
  • "What Is This: The Gestapo?" (1943) (pamphlet)
  • "On the Way Home" (1962)
  • The Woman's Day Book of American Needlework (1963)
  • Travels With Zenobia: Paris to Albania by Model T Ford (1983) (with Helen Dore Boylston, ed. William Holtz ISBN 978-0826203908
  • The Rediscovered Writings of Rose Wilder Lane, Literary Journalist (2007) (ed. Amy Mattson Lauters)

About Lane

  • Holtz, William V., 1995. The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane. University of Missouri Press. More.
  • ———, ed., 1991. Dorothy Thompson and Rose Wilder Lane: Forty Years of Friendship Letters, 1921-1960. University of Missouri Press. More.
  • Lauters, Amy Mattson, 2007. "The Rediscovered Writings of Rose Wilder Lane, Literary Journalist." University of Missouri Press. [1].
  • Beito, David T. Beito and Beito, Linda Royster. “Isabel Paterson, Rose Wilder Lane, and Zora Neale Hurston on War, Race, the State, and Liberty Independent Review 12 Spring 2008).
  • Miller, John E., 1998. Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder. University of Missouri Press. Contains extensive material on Rose and Laura's literary collaboration, including facsimiles of their correspondence.

External links

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The question is whether personal freedom is worth the terrible effort, the never-lifted burden and risks of self-reliance.

Rose Wilder Lane (December 5, 1886October 30, 1968) was an American journalist, travel writer, novelist, and political theorist. Although her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder, is now the better known writer, Lane's accomplishments remain remarkable. She is considered a seminal force behind the American Libertarian Party.

Contents

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  • I somehow always have this idea that as soon as I can get through this work that’s piled up ahead of me, I’ll really write a beautiful thing. But I never do. I always have the idea that someday, somehow, I’ll be living a beautiful life.
    • Written in the 1920s, as quoted in The Ghost in the Little House, ch. 8, by William V. Holtz (1993)
  • I so much like real things - the realities that come naturally from the depths of us like - what shall I say? - the way trees grow, from some inner essential principle of them, just expressing itself.
    • Letter to Arthur Griggs (June 22, 1920)
  • I can imagine nothing more wonderful than always wanting to keep a man...It's this NOT wanting to keep them, and yet not quite being able to disentangle one's self, never quite having the ruthlessness to stike at the hands on the gunwale with an oar until they let go -- that's the horrible thing.
    • Letter to Dorothy Thompson (December 29, 1927)
  • I'm not "filled with my art". I ain't got no art. I've got only a kind of craftsman's skill, and make stories as I make biscuits or embroider underwear or wrap up packages.
    • Letter to Guy Moyston (June 25, 1925)
  • I want to finish work on my mother's juvenile (Farmer Boy manuscript) by the end of June. There's a curious half-angry reluctance in my writing for other people. I say to myself that whatever earnings there may be are all in the family. Also I seize upon this task as an excuse to postpone my own work.
    • Diary (May 29, 1933)
  • I am too sick to work and haven't money enough to last 2 months and pay income tax. I want to keep going but do not see quite how, and there is no alternative - rather than justify my mother's 25-year dread of my "coming back on her, sick", I must kill myself. If she has to pay funeral costs, at least she will cut them to the bone and I will not be here to endure her martyrdom and prolong it by living.
    • Diary (sick and depressed) (December 9, 1933)
  • Life is a thin narrowness of taken-for-granted, a plank over a canyon in a fog. There is something under our feet, the taken-for-granted. A table is a table, food is food, we are we—because we don’t question these things. And science is the enemy because it is the questioner. Faith saves our souls alive by giving us a universe of the taken-for-granted.
    • Journal entry (1923), as quoted in The Ghost in the Little House, ch. 7, by William V. Holtz (1993)
  • Making the best of things is ... a damn poor way of dealing with them.... My whole life has been a series of escapes from that quicksand.
    • Letters to Guy Moyston, (August 25, 1924 and July 11, 1925)
  • The first twenty years of my life were wasted...I didn't fit my environment, and I didn't know any other.
    • Diary, (1927)
  • My mother cannot learn to have any reliance upon my financial judgment or promises. It's partly, I suppose, because she still thinks of me as a child...She even hesitates to let me have the responsibility of bringing up butter from the spring(house), for fear I won't do it quite right!...This unaccountable daughter who roams the world, borrowing money here and getting shot at there...is a pride, in a way, but a ceaseless apprehension, too.
    • Letter to Guy Moyston, (July 18, 1925)
  • And I say again, you need not worry any more about money. If I were to drop dead this instant, I have enough to double your present income if you never touched a cent of the principle. If you take a notion to do something that costs more than your income warrants, you need only let me know. You can have it.
    • Letter from Albania to Laura Ingalls Wilder, (October 27, 1926)
  • It was like being quite alone on the roof of the world. I felt that if I were to go to the edge and look over ... I would see below all that I had ever known; all the crowded cities and seas covered with ships, and the clamor of harbors and traffic of rivers, and farmlands being worked, and herds of cattle driven in dust across interminable plains. All the clamor and clatter, confusion of voices, tumults, and conflicts, must still be going on, down there—over the edge, and below—but here there was only the sky, and a stillness made audible by the brittle grass. Emptiness was so perfect all around me that I felt a part of it, empty myself.
    • Letter to the Clarence Day (June 10, 1926)
    • Describing her stop on a remote Russian plateau while with the Red Cross after WWI.
  • We joined long wagon trains moving south; we met hundreds of wagons going north; the roads east and west were crawling lines of families traveling under canvas, looking for work, for another foothold somewhere on the land.... The country was ruined, the whole world was ruined; nothing like this had ever happened before. There was no hope, but everyone felt the courage of despair.
    • Written in 1935, recalling her family’s migration from drought-stricken South Dakota to the Missouri Ozarks in 1894; the 650-mile trip had taken them six weeks.
    • As quoted in The Ghost in the Little House, ch. 1, by William V. Holtz (1993)
  • That way of life against which my generation rebelled had given us grim courage, fortitude, self-discipline, a sense of individual responsibility, and a capacity for relentless hard work.
    • Written in 1935, as quoted in The Ghost in the Little House, ch. 2, by William V. Holtz (1993)
  • The question is whether personal freedom is worth the terrible effort, the never-lifted burden and risks of self-reliance.
    • Said in 1936, as quoted in The Ghost in the Little House, prologue, by William V. Holtz (1993)
  • One thing I hate about the New Deal is that it is killing what, to me, is the American pioneering spirit. I simply do not know what to tell my own boys, leaving school and confronting this new world whose ideal is Security and whose practice is dependence upon government instead of upon one’s self.... All the old character-values seem simply insane from a practical point of view; the self-reliant, the independent, the courageous man is penalized from every direction.
    • Journal entry (April 15, 1937), as quoted in The Ghost in the Little House, ch. 14, by William V. Holtz (1993)
    • Commenting on the domestic policies of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
    • Since 1914...I wait for the natural to return; for newspapers to report news with care for accuracy and grammar; for schools to teach and for pupils to study; for faces to be sane and intelligent, and even humorous; for American artists and poets and writers to be exuberant and optimistic...it is all gone with the music of Vienna and the gaiety of San Francisco. But I still see everything against that background, and really I see nothing funny anywhere. The Beatnik beard and the mini skirt and the topless waitress, they ARE funny, I know they are funny but they only make me tired, I don't laugh.
    • letter to Roger MacBride (March 5, 1968).
    • reflecting her impressions of the world of 1968, at the age of 81.
  • The prairies were dust. Day after day, summer after summer, the scorching winds blew the dust and the sun was brassy in a yellow sky. Crop after crop failed. Again and again the barren land must be mortgaged for taxes and food and next year’s seed. The agony of hope ended when there was not harvest and no more credit, no money to pay interest and taxes; the banker took the land. Then the bank failed.
    • On the Way Home, ch. 1 (1962)

Old Home Town (1935)

  • Writing fiction is ... an endless and always defeated effort to capture some quality of life without killing it.
    • Ch. 1
  • Two deep human desires were at war ... the longing for stability, for form, for permanence, which in its essence is the desire for death, and the opposing hunger for movement, change, instability and risk, which are life. Men came from the east and built these American towns because they wished to go no farther, and the towns they built were shaped by the urge to go onward.
    • Ch. 1
  • It was not seen that woman’s place was in the home until she began to go out of it; the statement was a reply to an unspoken challenge, it was attempted resistance to irresistible change.
    • Ch. 1
  • Even the street, the sunshine, the very air had a special Sunday quality. We walked differently on Sundays, with greater propriety and stateliness. Greetings were more formal, more subdued, voices more meticulously polite. Everything was so smooth, bland, polished. And genuinely so, because this was Sunday. In church the rustling and the stillness were alike pervaded with the knowledge that all was for the best. Propriety ruled the universe. God was in His Heaven, and we were in our Sunday clothes.
    • Ch. 1
  • There is a city myth that country life was isolated and lonely; the truth is that farmers and their families then had a richer social life than they have now. They enjoyed a society organic, satisfying and whole, not mixed and thinned with the life of town, city and nation as it now is.
    • Ch. 1

Discovery of Freedom (1943)

  • Men are alive on this earth, only because the imperative human desire is to attack the enemies of human life. -viii
  • This is the nature of human energy; individuals generate it, and control it. Each person is self-controlling, and therefore responsible for his acts. Every human being, by his nature, is free. -xii
  • I am a contributing creator of American civilization; it does not create me. I control the stem of this civilization that is within my reach; it does not control me. It can not even make me read Spengler, if I'd rather read a pulp magazine. -pg18
  • When Government has a monopoly of all production and all distribution, as many Governments have, it can not permit any economic activity that competes with it. This means that it can not permit any new use of productive energy, for the new always competes with the old and destroys it. Men who build railroads destroy stage coach lines. -pg32

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