Mary's Library

Friday, August 25, 2006

Mary Garden

I have been reading The Merchant of Power - Sam Insull, Thomas Edison, and the Creation of the Modern Metropolis (2006), by John F. Wasik. I expect that I will have more to say about Mr Insull after I have finished the book. For now, though, I offer up an anecdote from the book about the incomparable Mary Garden, one of Insull's paramours.

Mary Garden (1874-1967) was a soprano in the early twentieth century. She was rather ahead of her time in the degree of sexuality that she infused into opera. As a result, her career was more successful initially in France than in the United States. She never forgot that. So, she interrupted her career to assist the French during the First World War. She went to France where, among other things, she worked part-time as a Red Cross nurse. She even tried, unsuccessfully, to join the French Army. Explaining this enlistment attempt, Mary said:

Why not? I owe France more than I can ever repay, even by giving my life, and I am sure that I could fight as well as a man if they would let me. I have never failed to subdue every man that I have met so far.

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