I Await the Devil's Coming

( 2 )

Overview

Mary MacLane’s I Await the Devil’s Coming is a shocking, brave and intellectually challenging diary of a 19-year-old girl living in Butte, Montana in 1902. Written in potent, raw prose that propelled the author to celebrity upon publication, the book has become almost completely forgotten.

In the early 20th century, MacLane’s name was synonymous with sexuality; she is widely hailed as being one of the earliest American feminist authors, and critics at the time praised ...

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I Await the Devil's Coming

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Overview

Mary MacLane’s I Await the Devil’s Coming is a shocking, brave and intellectually challenging diary of a 19-year-old girl living in Butte, Montana in 1902. Written in potent, raw prose that propelled the author to celebrity upon publication, the book has become almost completely forgotten.

In the early 20th century, MacLane’s name was synonymous with sexuality; she is widely hailed as being one of the earliest American feminist authors, and critics at the time praised her work for its daringly open and confessional style. In its first month of publication, the book sold 100,000 copies — a remarkable number for a debut author, and one that illustrates MacLane’s broad appeal.

Now, with a new foreward written by critic Jessa Crispin, I Await The Devil’s Coming stands poised to renew its reputation as one of America’s earliest and most powerful accounts of feminist thought and creativity.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post - Michael Dirda
When this shocking confession/memoir/prose poem first appeared in 1902…the book sold 100,000 copies within a month…In its sensational pages, the 19-year-old Mary MacLane proudly described her strong young body, her love for another woman and utter indifference to her family, the deep loneliness of life in turn-of-the-century Montana, her sexual and mystical reveries, an occasional impulse to suicide and, not least, her greatest wish of all: to marry the Devil, or at least be his plaything for a few days…one can still respond to MacLane's exalted, Blakean language, her almost shamanistic identification with the desert landscape and her witchy inversion of traditional female mysticism. A rather fin-de-siecle diabolist, she flouted conventional morality to be true to the playful, spirited woman she was…
From the Publisher
“MacLane deserves canonization alongside Virginia Woolf and Emily Dickinson and Gertrude Stein.” —Emily Gould, author of And The Heart Says Whatever and Friendship

"One of the most fascinatingly self-involved personalities of the 20th century."  The Age (2011)

"Mary MacLane comes off the page quivering with life. Moving."  The London Times

"The first of the self-expressionists, and also the first of the Flappers."  The Chicagoan

"Her first book was the first of the confessional diaries ever written in this country, and it was a sensation."  The New York Times

“I know of no other writer who can play upon words so magically. Mary MacLane is one of the few who actually knows how to write English. She senses the infinite resilience, the drunken exuber- ance, the magnificent power & delicacy of the language.” —H.L. Mencken 

“A girl wonder.” —Harper’s Magazine 

“A pioneering newswoman and later a silent-screen star, consid- ered the veritable spirit of the iconoclastic Twenties.” —Boston Globe 

“She was an extraordinarily gifted girl. . . She had a natural gift for crisp and concise expression, a keen, undisciplined intelligence and the emotional sensibility of a true artist.” —New York Tribune 

“A pioneering feminist. . . A sensation.” —Feminist Bookstore News

Library Journal
Originally published in 1902, this is the confessional memoir of Mary MacLane, a 19-year-old girl in Butte, MT. Written in diary style, the work is saturated with overstatements and melodrama endemic to teenagers as she explores essential human emotions, such as loneliness, expectation, and longing. Throughout MacLane addresses the devil as a savior liberating her from her dull existence, and eagerly anticipates his arrival; the title derives from the persistent refrain with which she ends many of her diary entries. She ponders questions both mundane and existential that inform the development of her sensual approach to life. A precursor to feminist manifestos, but containing some less than liberated concepts, the author expresses fierce desires during a time when women were expected to be subdued and conventional. The memoir illustrates the discontent that later led to greater rights and opportunities for women. VERDICT Despite its use of antiquated language, the book remains accessible for modern audiences. A fascinating read for those interested in gender and women’s studies, as well as women’s history.—Rachael Dreyer, American Heritage Ctr., Laramie, WY

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781612191942
  • Publisher: Melville House Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/19/2013
  • Series: Neversink Series
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 548,016
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

MARY MACLANE was born on May 1st 1881 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her family moved to Minnesota while she was young, then again to Montana after the death of her father and remarriage of her mother. She began writing for her school paper in 1898 and published her first book, I Await the Devil's Coming, under the title The Story of Mary MacLane, in 1902 at the age of nineteen. She published two further books, including the memoir I, Mary MacLane in 1917; also in 1917 she wrote and starred in an autobiographical silent film, Men Who Have Made Love to Me. She died in mysterious circumstances in Chicago in 1929, at the age of 48, and her works fell almost immediately into obscurity.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 20, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Wow. This book... I've been sitting on this review all week, try

    Wow. This book... I've been sitting on this review all week, trying to gather my thoughts and figure out where to begin.

    Mary MacLane comes across as a wee bit narcissistic, even sociopathic at times. She goes on and on and on about what a genius she is. She's not lacking in self-confidence. She says her family means nothing to her (and makes you believe it). Even when she does a good deed, she admits she only does so because it makes her feel good; no other reason whatsoever. Stuck in a small mining town, wanting more for herself, MacLane feels completely misunderstood and out of place.

    But this is a journal, after all. Many of her sentiments could be chalked up to teen melodrama. She is brutally honest about herself, spouting her innermost thoughts in an angry whirlwind of words.

    I think the challenge in reading I Await the Devil's Coming (aside from MacLane's freaky infatuation with the devil) is trying to put aside my own contemporary perspective. When I consider the role of women around 1900, MacLane seems far less crazy and more just... horribly displaced in time. Women didn't yet have the right to vote. Considered obscene, birth control information and devices were illegal. Traditional gender roles were expected; for women, that meant a life of domesticity. Period. I thought back to Garnet facing similar feelings and struggles in Molly Beth Griffin's Silhouette of a Sparrow, which is set 24 years later, and I think, 24 years later!? Mary MacLane was so far ahead of her time; it's no wonder she often felt overwhelmed by these frustrations.

    "What else is there for me, if not this book? And, oh, that some one may understand it!"

    It is vital for readers to remove their modern lenses while reading the thoughts MacLane shares in I Await the Devil's Coming. This is a fascinating look into a fiercely brilliant mind.

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2013

    An important book in every sense. MacLane's voice is incredible,

    An important book in every sense. MacLane's voice is incredible, haunting, powerful, and all of those cliches we throw around too easily. 
    MacLane should loom large at the beginning of twentieth century literature. She should cast a shadow over everything that came after her. I cannot, cannot, stop thinking about this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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