MYSELF by Sylvia Ashtop-Warner


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New Zealand's innovative teacher of reading and internationally recognized novelist offers a partial autobiography in the form of journal entries made during World War II. She had been married ten years, had three children, was teaching the primary grades in a Maori district school, and continued to struggle toward becoming""...a worthwhile person."" Sometimes her struggle reads more like that of a girl suffering the terminal throes of aggravated adolescence than of a thirty-year-old woman. However, this author, especially in her fiction, has always tended to value emotion over reason, sensibility over common sense. This attitude attracts as many readers as it repels. By her own record and in her introduction she admits that she was selfish during this period; at one and the same time, she wanted to be a perfect wife, an excellent mother, a responsible teacher, and to have enough solitude to pursue her creative interests. It's the sort of selfishness that young married women can understand. She also wanted everybody to love her. This leads to passages more naive than selfish. The young bachelor doctor, one of the few educated adults in her area, was regularly subjected to the confusion of her bouts of declared passion which were never allowed to become physical--all very prim and pretty grim. The author published this personal view as an answer to the many young American teachers who wrote her of their own struggles after reading her books, which are revelations of her fight against the bureaucracy of pedagogy. That's a good definition of her ultimate readership. Good autobiography ought to mean self-exposure over self-admiration and this meets that standard.

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1967
Publisher: Simon & Schuster