Simon, Linda 1946-
Simon, Linda 1946-
PERSONAL: Born December 12, 1946, in Brooklyn, NY; daughter of Samuel and Kay (Pacula) Perlin; married Laurence Simon, August 6, 1966, divorced; married Thilo Ullmann, December 19, 1992; children: Aaron. Education: Queens College of the City University of New York, B.A., 1967; New York University, M.A., 1971; Brandeis University, Ph.D., 1983.
CAREER: Writer and educator. Fordham University, New York, NY, instructor in creative writing, 1970–72; freelance writer, 1972–; Emory University, Atlanta, GA, instructor in English, 1982–83; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, preceptor in expository writing program, beginning 1983; Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, professor of English, English department chair.
AWARDS, HONORS: Sabbatical Fellowship for the Humanities and Social Sciences, American Philosophical Society, 2002–03.
(Editor) Gertrude Stein: A Composite Portrait, Avon (New York, NY), 1974.
The Biography of Alice B. Toklas, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1977.
Thornton Wilder: His World, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1979.
Of Virtue Rare: Margaret Beaufort, Matriarch of the House of Tudor, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1982.
Good Writing: A Guide and Sourcebook for Writing across the Curriculum, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1988.
(Editor) Contexts: A Thematic Reader, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1991.
(With Nancy Sommers) The HarperCollins Guide to Writing (with sourcebook), HarperCollins College Publishers (New York, NY), 1993.
(Editor) Gertrude Stein Remembered, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 1994.
(Editor) William James Remembered, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 1996.
Genuine Reality: A Life of William James, Harcourt Brace (New York, NY), 1998.
New Beginnings: A Guide for Adult Learners and Returning Students, Prentice Hall (Upper Saddle River, NJ), 1999.
Dark Light: Electricity and Anxiety from the Telegraph to the X-Ray, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004.
Contributor to Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Critical Survey of Poetry, and Dictionary of Literary Biography, Gale. Also contributor of reviews and essays to Salmagundi, Isis, Journal of American History, Literature and Medicine, Philosophy and Literature, New England Quarterly, Newsday, Boston Globe, Biography, Chicago Sun-Times, South Atlantic Quarterly, Library Journal, and Worcester Telegram. General editor for online journal William James Studies.
WORK IN PROGRESS: The Critical Reception of Henry James: Creating a Master, for Camden House.
SIDELIGHTS: Linda Simon once told CA that she tries to make the past accessible and immediate in her biographies. For example, in Genuine Reality: A Life of William James, Simon carefully sets the stage for James's career in the fields of philosophy and psychology by delving into the entire James family, including his famous novelist brother Henry. Most of the early focus, however, is on William's father, essentially a failure in philosophy and a harsh parental figure. Patricia O'Toole, writing in the Wilson Quarterly, noted: "As patriarch of the brood, Henry Sr. was self-absorbed, frustrated by a lack of recognition for his philosophical writings, opinionated, and quick to hurl himself in the path of William's ambitions." O'Toole also wrote that the author was more adept at "chronicling [William's] career as a public figure" than his philosophical viewpoints. Nevertheless, O'Toole noted that the author's portrait of James is presented "in all his complexity with few authorial ahems." Atlantic Monthly contributor Phoebe-Lou Adams noted: "Ms. Simon has a wealth of good material to discuss or to quote … and she describes his shifts in philosophical thinking lucidly." Lloyd Eby, writing in the World and I, commented: "Her book is richly detailed, thorough, careful, and workmanlike." Eby also suggested: "This book will be indispensable for those who wish to understand this complex, influential, and always-conflicted person."
Simon recounts the public's reaction and response to a new source of power in Dark Light: Electricity and Anxiety from the Telegraph to the X-Ray. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that the author "draws on 19th-century newspapers, popular fiction, and other nontechnical sources to examine how electricity was understood, promoted, feared, and exploited." The author's history covers a wide range of historical figures, such as Edgar Allan Poe and Thomas Edison, and explores fears about how electricity would change the world, such as through the use of the electric chair. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book an "illuminating social history" and added that many of the "stories … benefit from Simon's good eye for … intrigue, politicking and hucksterism."
Simon also served as editor of Gertrude Stein Remembered, a collection of twenty memoirs—some flattering and others critical—of Stein via various artists' journals, letters, and other writings. The volume also includes reminiscences by three Radcliff classmates. Review of Contemporary Fiction contributor Ray Lewis White noted that the author does not reference her first work, Gertrude Stein: A Composite Portrait. White believed that the first volume offered a more complete view of Stein because it contained more harsh assessments. However, he added: "Readers new to Gertrude Stein or devoted to her life and works should own and enjoy both of Linda Simon's volumes."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlantic Monthly, March, 1998, Phoebe-Lou Adams, review of Genuine Reality: A Life of William James, p. 116.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2004, review of Dark Light: Electricity and Anxiety from the Telegraph to the X-Ray, p. 434.
Publishers Weekly, October 31, 1994, review of Gertrude Stein Remembered, p. 50; May 24, 2004, review of Dark Light, p. 54.
Review of Contemporary Fiction, spring, 1998, Ray Lewis White, review of Gertrude Stein Remembered, p. 240. SciTech Book News, June, 2005, review of Dark Light, p. 144.
Wilson Quarterly, summer, 1998, Patricia O'Toole, review of Genuine Reality, p. 109.
World and I, May, 1999, Lloyd Eby, review of Genuine Reality, p. 273.
Bakken Library and Museum Web site, http://www.thebakken.org/ (February 28, 2006), "Linda Simon," author comments on research.
Skidmore College Web site, http://www.skidmore.edu/ (February 28, 2006), brief faculty profile.