Dec 02, Perry Whitford rated it liked it In the introduction to this, the autobiography of her youth and emigration from Russia to America in the decades straddling the 19th and 20th centuries, Mary Antin writes:
I am just as much out of the way as if I were dead, for I am absolutely other than the person whose story I have to tell. Physical continuity with my earlier self is no disadvantage. I could speak in the third person and not feel that I was masquerading.
I can analyze my subject, I can reveal everything; for she, and not I, is my real heroine. My life I have still to live; her life ended when mine began.
A generation is sometimes a more satisfactory unit for the study of humanity than a lifetime; and spiritual generations are as easy to demark as physical ones.
Now I am the spiritual offspring of the marriage within my conscious experience of the Past and the Present. My second birth was no less a birth because there was no distinct incarnation.
Surely it has happened before that one body served more than one spiritual organization. Nor am I disowning my father and mother of the flesh, for they were also partners in the generation of my second self; copartners with my entire line of ancestors. The spirit also The promised land by mary antin gave me, so that I reason like my father and endure like my mother.
But did they set me down in a sheltered garden, where the sun should warm me, and no winter should hurt, while they fed me from their hands? No; they early let me run in the fields — perhaps because I would not be held — and eat of the wild fruits and drink of the dew.
Did they teach me from books, and tell me what to believe? I soon chose my own books, and built me a world of my own.
In these discriminations I emerged, a new being, something that had not been before. And when I discovered my own friends, and ran home with them to convert my parents to a belief in their excellence, did I not begin to make my father and mother, as truly as they had ever made me?
Did I not become the parent and they the children, in those relations of teacher and learner? And so I can say that there has been more than one birth of myself, and I can regard my earlier self as a separate being, and make it a subject of study. A proper autobiography is a death-bed confession.
A true man finds so much work to do that he has no time to contemplate his yesterdays; for to-day and to-morrow are here, with their impatient tasks.
Still there are circumstances by which a man is justified in pausing in the middle of his life to contemplate the years already passed. One who has completed early in life a distinct task may stop to give an account of it. One who has encountered unusual adventures under vanishing conditions may pause to describe them before passing into the stable world.
And perhaps he also might be given an early hearing, who, without having ventured out of the familiar paths, without having achieved any signal triumph, has lived his simple life so intensely, so thoughtfully, as to have discovered in his own experience an interpretation of the universal life.
I am not yet thirty, counting in years, and I am writing my life history. Under which of the above categories do I find my justification?
I have not accomplished anything, I have not discovered anything, not even by accident, as Columbus discovered America. My life has been unusual, but by no means unique.
And this is the very core of the matter. It is because I understand my history, in its larger outlines, to be typical of many, that I consider it worth recording.
My life is a concrete illustration of a multitude of statistical facts. Although I have written a genuine personal memoir, I believe that its chief interest lies in the fact that it is illustrative of scores of unwritten lives.
I am only one of many whose fate it has been to live a page of modern history. We are the strands of the cable that binds the Old World to the New. As the ships that brought us link the shores of Europe and America, so our lives span the bitter sea of racial differences and misunderstandings.
Before we came, the New World knew not the Old; but since we have begun to come, the Young World has taken the Old by the hand, and the two are learning to march side by side, seeking a common destiny.
Perhaps I have taken needless trouble to furnish an excuse for my autobiography. My age alone, my true age, would be reason enough for my writing.The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America Nicholas Lemann.
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A unique contribution to our modern literature and to our modern history. — The New York TimesThis classic of the Jewish-American immigrant experience was an instant critical and popular success upon its publication.5/5(1).
The Promised Land is an autobiography by author and activist Mary Antin. The book's overall theme is of the opportunities that the United States has to offer to new immigrants. The book. The Promised Land and millions of other books are available for Amazon Kindle.
Learn more Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App/5(58). The Promised Land by Mary Antin was written before the author had reached her thirtieth birthday. Mary Antin () was born in a small Russian town an Most autobiographies are written at /5.