Catholic Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook

By Mary R. Reichardt | Go to book overview

MARY GORDON (1949–)

BIOGRAPHY

Born in Far Rockaway, Long Island, in 1949, Mary Catherine Gordon, the daughter of a Jewish immigrant, David Gordon, and a woman of Italian Irish descent, Anna Gagliano, grew up in Valley Stream, a working-class, Irish Catholic neighborhood. Her father, who had converted from Judaism to orthodox Catholicism before she was born, raised her to be educated and devout: he taught her to read when she was three, and introduced her to Latin, Greek, and literature. Due to illness, he stayed home with young Mary while her mother, despite the effects of polio, worked full time. He founded a number of unsuccessful right-wing Catholic magazines before he died in 1957, when Mary was eight. After her father’s death, Mary and her mother lived with Mary’s Irish grandmother and aunt. Gordon describes this time as painful: she was sent to an academically weak Catholic school, and was rarely given the opportunity to discuss the literature, art, and ideas that her father had sparked within her. As Gordon wrote in her memoir about her father, The Shadow Man (1996), whenever she did something that the cloistered sisters at the school did not like, they would say to her, “That’s the Jew in you” (p. 20).

In the late 1960s, Gordon escaped to Barnard College, where she had won a scholarship, in order to experience the non-Catholic world. She promptly lost her virginity, her political naiveté, and her Catholic faith. Although she has since compromised with Catholicism, she was very disturbed by the sexual puritanism of the Church that she faced during college: “I think that the tragedy of the Catholic Church in the twentieth century is that it has put so much energy into forbidding sexual freedom. It turned itself into a kind of very perverse sexual policeman, and it’s eroded its own moral authority for that reason,” she has stated (Lee, p. 221).

After Barnard, Gordon attended graduate school and drafted her dissertation on Virginia Woolf while also publishing poems and short stories. While researching her dissertation in London, Gordon wrote her first novel, Final

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Catholic Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction xv
  • Notes xxix
  • Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647–1690) 1
  • Julia Alvarez (1950–) 7
  • Angela of Foligno (c.1248–1309) 13
  • Katherine Burton (1884–1969) 18
  • Elizabeth Cary (1585–1639) 24
  • Madre Castillo (1671–1742) 29
  • Bibliography 33
  • Willa Cather (1873–1947) 34
  • Bibliography 39
  • Catherine of Genoa (1447–1510) 41
  • Bibliography 45
  • Catherine of Siena (1347–1380) 46
  • Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951–1982) 52
  • Sandra Cisneros (1954–) 57
  • Clare of Assisi (1194–1253) 63
  • Judith Ortiz Cofer (1952–) 68
  • Elizabeth Cullinan (1933–) 74
  • Dorothy Day (1897–1980) 81
  • Annie Dillard (1945–) 89
  • Louise Erdrich (1954–) 95
  • Rosario FerrÉ (1938–) 102
  • Lady Georgiana Fullerton (1812–1885) 108
  • Rumer Godden (1907–1998) 114
  • Bibliography 120
  • Caroline Gordon (1895–1981) 121
  • Mary Gordon (1949–) 129
  • Louise Imogen Guiney (1861–1920) 136
  • Madame Guyon (1648–1717) 143
  • Madame Guyon (1648–1717) 149
  • Emily Henrietta Hickey (1845–1924) 155
  • Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) 161
  • Hrotsvit of Gandersheim (c. 935–c. 975) 169
  • Bibliography 173
  • Marie de L’incarnation (1599–1672) 175
  • Sor Juana InÉs de la Cruz (1648–1695) 181
  • Julian of Norwich (c. 1342–after 1413) 187
  • Sheila Kaye-Smith (1887–1956) 193
  • Margery Kempe (c. 1373–c. 1440) 200
  • Bibliography 205
  • Rose Hawthorne Lathrop (1851–1926) 207
  • Mary Lavin (1912–1996) 213
  • Bibliography 218
  • Denise Levertov (1923–1997) 220
  • Notes 226
  • Clare Boothe Luce (1903–1987) 228
  • Mary Mccarthy (1912–1989) 235
  • Rigoberta MenchÚ (1959–) 241
  • Alice Meynell (1847–1922) 247
  • Pilar MillÁn Astray (1879–1949) 254
  • Kathleen Norris (1947–) 261
  • Edna O’brien (1932–) 267
  • Bibliography 273
  • Flannery O’connor (1925–1964) 275
  • Bibliography 280
  • Eunice Odio (1919–1974) 283
  • Sister Carol Anne O’marie (1933–) 289
  • Bibliography 294
  • Emilia Pardo BazÁn (1851–1921) 295
  • Bibliography 299
  • Christine de Pizan (1365–c.1430) 301
  • Katherine Anne Porter (1890–1980) 308
  • Adelaide Anne Procter (1825–1864) 315
  • Antonia Pulci (1452–1501) 320
  • Christina Rossetti (1830–1894) 326
  • Mary Anne Sadlier (1820–1903) 333
  • Bibliography 337
  • Dorothy L. Sayers (1893–1957) 338
  • Bibliography 342
  • Valerie Sayers (1952–) 344
  • Bibliography 350
  • Sophie Rostopchine, Countess de SÉgur (1799–1874) 351
  • Muriel Spark (1918–) 357
  • Edith Stein (1891–1942) 362
  • Bibliography 367
  • Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots (1542–1587) 369
  • Notes 374
  • Teresa of Avila (1515–1582) 375
  • Bibliography 380
  • ThÉrÈse of Lisieux (1873–1897) 381
  • Bibliography 386
  • Sigrid Undset (1882–1949) 387
  • Bibliography 392
  • Simone Weil (1909–1943) 394
  • Antonia White (1899–1980) 398
  • Selected General Bibliography 403
  • Index 409
  • About the Editor and Contributors 417
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