To This Great Stage of Fools: Born September 6th

Marquis de Lafayette, b. 1757. French general and aristocrat whose full name was Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert de Motier, Lafayette. He came to the U.S. colonies in 1777 at the age of 19 and immediately demanded a commission as an officer in the Continental Army. However, he did agree to serve without pay as a volunteer. He became a close friend and protege of George Washington and asked Washington to be godfather to his son, Georges Washington du Motier. He returned to France after the American Revolution and was hailed as “The Hero of Two Worlds,” but he had to flee France during the French Revolution even though he believed in a constitutional monarchy and renounced his title of “marquis.” He returned to France under Napoleon’s rule. Congress granted Lafayette honarary U.S. citizenship on August 6, 2002.

Jane Addams, b. 1860. Founder of Hull House, a settlement house in Chicago, and author of the autobiographical Twenty Years at Hull House. I don’t have a copy of Miss Addams’ Twenty Years, but I do have a book that I picked up at a used book sale called The Mother’s Book, published in 1919, that contains writing by Jane Addams and other authors of her same ilk and persuasion. The book is a mixture of excellent advice on child training and hopelesssly idealistic or condescending nonsense. For example, from an article by William Byron Forbush, Why Home Is Better Than Kindergarten:

There are some distinct advantages in the home-school for small children.
The mother excells the teacher in both knowledge and interest. She may not be familliar with child-study and she does not talk scientifically about the child, but she knows and loves “her” child.
Home life is real, while kindergarten can necessarily only imitate real life.

The author goes on to advocate homeschooling as the best way to educate children up to at least age seven.

On the other hand, another author in the same book tells mothers:

Baby’s training must be begun from the first day. He should not be rocked to sleep, trotted, or walked the floor with, nor allowed to suck his thumb or pacifer. All of these habits will soon have to be broken, so why begin them?
In modern maternity hospitals a crying baby is placed in the center of a large, soft, and comfortable bed and left alone to cry itself to sleep. Very distressing to the mother and the neighbors; but the little one soon finds its true level, will give up the habit of crying, and not wait for the bottle or the bribe of a lump of sugar.

Who knew that the Ezzos studied early twentieth century social work manuals for their parenting advice?

Felix Salten (Siegmund Salzmann), b. 1869. He was born in Budapest, Hungary, but his family moved to Vienna, Austria when he was only a baby. He started writing because he worked in an insurance office, and he was bored. His most famous book was, of course, Bambi: A Life in the Woods, published in Austria in 1923. It was published in the U.S. in 1928, translated into English by none other than Whittaker Chambers, twenty years before the Alger Hiss affair made him (in)famous. The Nazis banned Bambi in 1936, and when the Germans implemented their Anchluss with Austria, Salten fled to Switzerland. (Felix Salten was Jewish.) The German novelist Thomas Mann showed Salten’s book Bambi to Walt Disney, and the movie of the same name came five years later in 1942, during World War II.

1 thought on “To This Great Stage of Fools: Born September 6th

  1. Thanks for the book review, Sherry.

    I’m in early for Poetry Friday due to an early morning eye doctor appt. that will keep me from seeing well for hours. I’ve got two poems by Anne Compton from her book, processional. Here’s the link:

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