Outside the Magic Circle: The Autobiography of Virginia Foster Durr

Outside the Magic Circle: The Autobiography of Virginia Foster Durr

Outside the Magic Circle: The Autobiography of Virginia Foster Durr

Outside the Magic Circle: The Autobiography of Virginia Foster Durr

Synopsis

'This extraordinary memoir by Virginia Foster Durr originated in interviews between 1974 and 1977. Hollinger F. Barnard pieced together the interviews in a way that eliminated repetition, produced a coherent and eminently readable narrative, and in the process, demonstrated her superb editorial skills. The result is a book that both chronicles the emancipation of a southern lady and probes the mind and mores of her region with rare insight, disarming candor and engaging wit.

Excerpt

Virginia durr said it: there were three ways for a well-brought-up young Southern white woman to go.

She could be the actress, playing out the stereotype of the Southern belle. Gracious to "the colored help," flirtatious to her powerful father-in-law, and offering a sweet, winning smile to the world. in short, going with the wind.

If she had a spark of independence or worse, creativity, she could go crazy--on the dark, shadowy street traveled by more than one stunning Southern belle.

Or she could be the rebel. She could step outside the magic circle, abandon privilege, and challenge this way of life. Ostracism, bruises of all sorts, and defamation would be her lot. Her reward would be a truly examined life. and a world she would otherwise never have known.

It is the third road Virginia Durr traveled. in this remarkable memoir, we are witness to the flowering of a unique "personality." Her original title for her book was "The Emancipation of Pure White Southern Womanhood." in a sense, this work is Virginia's own Emancipation Proclamation.

The depression of the thirties was her first revelatory moment. "Up to this time, I had been a conformist, a Southern snob. I actually thought the only people who amounted to anything were the very small group I belonged to. I valued the idea of being well-born." After all, she was vice-president of the Junior League. "What I learned during the Depression changed all that. I saw a blinding light like Saul on the road to Damascus." Even now, I hear her laugh as she recalled those times. It is a laugh of astonishment; not so much a shock of recognition as a recognition of shock. "It was the first time I had seen the . . .

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