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Young, Marguerite

YOUNG, Marguerite

Born 1909, Indianapolis, Indiana

Daughter of Chester E. and Fay Knight Young

Marguerite Young was raised from early childhood by her maternal grandmother. She attended Indiana and Butler Universities (B.A. in English and French, 1930) and the University of Chicago (M.A., 1936). Working her way through graduate school, she read the works of Shakespeare aloud to a prominent woman who was bedfast due to opium addiction. From this experience, Young gained an insight into life and an understanding of the psychology of opium and dreams. Later, while studying at the University of Iowa, she became interested in the philosophies of Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and William James. She has taught creative writing at many universities, and after 1943 lived in New York City.

Young has published well-received poetry, Prismatic Ground (1937) and Moderate Fable (1945), both concerned with the fabulous and the illusory. The first deals especially with the hidden recesses of the mind, as in "The Dark Wood." In "Slow Motion," from the second volume, she makes use of an image of timelessness as fixed motion: "The heart is that camera of a slow motion."

Even in her reviews (such as "Fictions Mystical and Epical," Kenyon Review, Winter 1945, about Katherine Anne Porter's The Leaning Tower and Virginia Woolf's A Haunted House), she is most concerned with apparitions, ghosts, and the evanes-cent. Her style reflects her interest in what is obscure, in the fantastic and supernatural, "the certitude of the permanent possibility of sensation, which is the one reality."

Young is obsessed with utopian quests. Angel in the Forest: A Fairy Tale of Two Utopias (1945) is a poetic and fairly successful history of the Rappist and Owenite societies of New Harmony, Indiana. Miss MacIntosh, My Darling (1963, reissued and recorded in 1983) is an epic novel of illusion and reality. The heroine, Vera Cartwheel, journeys in search of reality as personi-fied by her old Scotch Presbyterian nursemaid, Miss MacIntosh. Other characters—such as her mother, an opium addict—repre-sent illusion. The novel concludes with Vera accepting ambivalence as a reality of life and marrying a stone-deaf man. Replete with detail, endless digressions, mythical legends, and arcane symbols, Miss MacIntosh, My Darling, even more than Young's other works, calls for suspended judgement on the part of an uncommon reader. If Young's style is obscure, it is an obscurity well matched with her subject matter and based on her extensive knowledge of a long history of symbolism, particularly of Elizabethan and Jacobean symbols.

Other Works:

Below the City (1975). Pacific Transport (1976). Leaves, Leaves (1989). Marguerite Young: The Collected Poems (1990). Nothing But the Truth (1993). Inviting the Muses: Stories, Essays, Reviews (1994). Harp Song for a Radical: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debbs (1999).

Bibliography:

Etlin, M. E., "'Bee Bak in a Whale': The Matriarchal Vision of Marguerite Young's Miss MacIntosh, My Darling " (thesis 1983). Fuchs, M., ed., Marguerite Young, Our Darling: Tributes and Essays (1994). Newquist, R., Conversations (1967). Ruas, C., Conversations with American Writers (1985). Staley, R. E., No Landscape but the Soul's: A Critical Study of the Work of Marguerite Young (dissertation 1993).

Reference works:

CA (1975). World Authors, 1950-1970 (1975).

Other references:

Book Forum (1977). Book World (Aug. 1994). Cimarron Review (Jan. 1995). Marguerite Young Interview With Kay Bonetti (audiocassette, 1983). Paris Review (1977). Review of Contemporary Fiction (1989).

—LORENE POUNCEY

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