Maria Jolas, Woman of Action: A Memoir and Other Writings (Hardc... Cover Art

Maria Jolas, Woman of Action: A Memoir and Other Writings (Hardcover)

By: Mary Ann Caws, M. Jolas

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Short Desription

Maria McDonald Jolas, a member of a distinguished Kentucky family and cofounder with Eugene Jolas of the international literary journal transition, has been called a survivor of the heroic generation and, somewhat to her discomfort, "the leading lady of Paris literati of the Thirties." Her memoir and other writings, edited and introduced by Mary Ann Caws, reveal the truth in those accolades as well as the measure of her contribution to our understanding of modernism. Completing the portrait of her family’s life begun in her husband’s autobiography, Man from Babel, this volume sheds light on the remarkable achievements of the other half of a celebrated partnership.

As one of the primary forces behind transition, Maria Jolas helped introduce the world to the twentieth-century’s literary avant-garde, among them Gertrude Stein, Archibald MacLeish, Allen Tate, Ernest Hemingway, Samuel Beckett, William Carlos Williams, and James Joyce. A skillful translator, Jolas is renowned for her renderings of Gaston Bachelard’s philosophical texts, Nathalie Sarraute’s novels and plays, and works by Joyce. In addition, Jolas founded an influential school, the Ecole Bilingue in France, and the celebrated Cantine La Marseillaise in New York.

Jolas’s memoir traces her childhood in Louisville, her studies to be a professional singer, and her introduction to Eugene through the pianist Jacques Jolas. Describing a busy family life that centered on two daughters—Betsy, who became a famous composer, and Tina, an accomplished archaeologist and translator—Jolas recalls the difficulties of living in France during the German occupation, the family’s relocation to the United States, and her postwar activism.

Caws supplements Jolas’s memoir with the memoirist’s radio addresses, lectures to French and American audiences, journal entries from Paris and New York, and letters to her husband. The memoir Jolas completed at age eighty, coupled with these documents, gives voice to a woman whose legacy has too often been effaced by that of her colorful husband and their famous friends.

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