The Company of Women

Fitzgerald, Sally

am I I I I Books: HARSH LOVE & HUMAN HAPPINESS S T. CYPRIAN was a third-century bish- op of Carthage, and an outspoken op- ponent of Pope Stephen's liberality to- ward lapsed...

...Oakland, CA 94618 PAYMENT MUST ACCOMPANY ORDER 19 June 19811" 377...
...Henry, Thomas Howard, Erazim Kohak, Arthur F. McGovern S.J., Richard John Neuhaus, John T. Noonan Jr., Paul Ramsey, James V. Schall S.J., Paul Seabury, Sheldon Vanauken, and Robert E. Webber...
...The only followers, or friends, left to him are his disprized "goose-girls," five working women of disparate backgrounds, bound together by their devotion to him, and by the sustaining friendship that has grown up among at least four of their number...
...Clare pays for everything, cheerfully, and eventually begins the construction of her own house nearby...
...From these we learn something of the composure each has reached Commonweal: 376 ~r as an unexpected outcome of the ordeal of Felicitas, and we learn that they are all, except hopeless Munel, happier than they have ever been in their lives...
...m m mm m m m m mm m m,-, m n n mm mm mm m m m m m m m m m m m mmm m m mm m m I SPECIAL DISCOUNT RATES FOR FIRST-TIME SUBSCRIBERS I m One-year subscription...
...We are a new and unique monthly magazine, the kind that Catholics have been searching for --in many cases --for decades...
...He is spared the knowledge of the damage he has done to Felicitas by his dualistic schooling...
...Cyprian, reflecting on himself, and although aware that he, too, is happier than ever before, nevertheless suffers from a sense of failure on all scores, particularly in his priesthood...
...Transfixed by this unlikely academic, and with straightforward passion, Felicitas joins his absurd menage as a timid and unloved lover, taken more out of perversity than real attraction or interest on the philosopher's part...
...Cyprian has offended her unforgivably (as, irr one way or another, he has offended all these women) by the suggestion that he mourns the death of her husband far more than she...
...SUPPORT THE cultural, and political topics, and various viewpoints are aired...
...Occasionally restive and resentful, they are nonetheless faithful to him as mentor and atten9rive to his personal needs...
...6 (regularly $9) [] One-year Canadian or foreign sub...
...Now every morning is miraculous to me...
...From Mary Rose and Joe, Felicitas gets the idea that the presence of a baby in the house is a simple pleasure, and for the first time she sees the child as weaker than herself, and as beautiful...
...Encore, encore...
...Rather, he seems for the first time able to value what he has received, and to return it in kind, instead of forcing upon his friends that which in his vanity he supposed he could give them from his own borrowed splendor...
...He had to do that with people, have that one little sentence about everyone, as if he couldn't remember who was who without it...
...Neither he nor they seem to realize that he is as dependent upon them as they are upon him...
...But before she leaves she has 9 "brought with her the one gift none of the other godmothers had brought to the christening," conventional responses...
...He was martyred, and personally so revered that he was canonized, and his name has for centuries appeared among those of the early fathers in the Canon of the Mass...
...Among her new friends, everything is either "good shit" or "bad shit," and "getting (one's) shit together" defines acceptable thinking or performance...
...Clare is a well-off career woman in New York, who has inherited from her father a high-fashion leather business which she conducts with taste and acumen...
...Our writers include such diverse and exciting people as Peter L. Berger, J.M...
...When you put it that way, it sounds pretty goddamn flat...
...Above all, he thinks about the aging women from whom he has received and accepted so much, even as he despised them all...
...Unable to accept aggiornamento, he can neither live at peace with his Paracletist fellow-monks, nor effectively function as a secular priest, as he attempts to do after leaving his order...
...Hence, we maintain strong links to Evangelicals, Pentecostalists, the Eastern Orthodox, and others...
...mind if she does not escape his overweening presence...
...Womanish" is to him a pejorative term...
...We strongly support the Polish Pope's valiant efforts to protect Poland from the Soviet imperialists and to enhance social Justice, both in Poland and throughout the world...
...By way of punishment for this pantheistic University Microfilms International 300 North ZeebRoad Dept...
...She was the salt of the earth and Elizabeth was one of God's doves and Clare had a mind like a man's and Mary Rose was a ray of sunlight and Muriel was an extraordinary soul...
...She will marry the village hardware merchant, Leo...
...Only Mary Rose leaves the company, to marry her faithful suitor, a week after she learns that her mad husband has finally died...
...The only human being Cyprian can really love is the promising daughter of one of these women, the only child among them...
...In other words, Cyprian fits everyone into a flat and linear schema of his own...
...Something in Cyprian made him do that, as 'if he had to pin people down so he wouldn't lose track of anybody...
...Felicitas is well aware of the strangeness of her upbringing in this circle, of which she is the spoiled cynosure and greatest hope...
...Father Cyprian--pure, elitist, tyrannical, but unquestionably dedicated to his priesthood--has seen his most cherished theological conceptions rejected, and priestly practices altered, by the postconciliar church...
...We address a variety of religious, (Please allow 2 to 8 weeks for delivery of first issue...
...At nineteen, now fully defiant, she crashes through all plans to send her off to absorb further "Catholic" education and persuades her mother to let her go to Columbia University instead...
...She is able to appreciate and return the love her mother's other friends surround her with, but she knows that she can find no model for her own life in theirs...
...Some of his overly rigid views and writings were, however, rejected and officially Indexed as teaching error...
...Uneven, in execution, it is nevertheless, I think, an even more impressive work,-larger in scope, more deeply perceptive, richer in mystery, than the first book...
...She knows that this means he thinks she is stupid...
...Charlotte, "whose real genius lay in never longing for what did not seem accessible," takes life as it comes, and deals with it effectively...
...9 m II ~ One.year student or retired person's | subscription...$5 (regularly $7) II , ~ Three-year sub...
...Seven years later, Felicitas does not even remember when her life began to change--which is to say, return--and she is no longer desperate...
...Our Editor is Dale Vree...
...am I I I I Books: HARSH LOVE & HUMAN HAPPINESS S T. CYPRIAN was a third-century bishop of Carthage, and an outspoken opponent of Pope Stephen's liberality toward lapsed members of the young church...
...The others, apart from impossible Muriel, whose only wish is to have Cyprian to herself to wait upon, are no less subservient to his thinking...
...A bravo pe~ormance...
...Funds) [] Sample copy .. $2.50 Make check payable to "American Church Union" and mail to: NEW OXFORD REVIEW Room 163 6013 Lawton Ave...
...Bookish and bemused, she finds in Charlotte, the rough-tongued mother of Felicitas, a personality who calms her fears and provides the common sense, reciprocal humor, and reassuring warmth she needs to stay them...
...She wants for her child a 4 father who doesn't father her as if they were both bodiless, as Cyprian had fathered, driving her to extremes of revolt...
...Nor is she aware of the change that has occurred in him...
...Two of the women of the company are spinsters and two are widows...
...He has set her up for Robert's apparent health and beauty...
...So Mary Rose obediently spends the better part of her life alone and lonely, attended by the kindly old Jewish owner of the theater where she works, who patiently waits for her to be free so that they can marry...
...Pitiable, empty, without dignity or real hope of any kind, Iris and Sally live at armistice with each other, occupying his apartment with Sally's small son, Mao, whom the mother is careful to present as the product of a casual--free--encounter, lest she bore the professor with the knowledge of his parenthood...
...Married briefly to a dangerous lunatic, Mary Rose is first saved from harm by Cyprian's practical action of leading her husband to Bellevue and THE COMPANY OF WOMEN Mary Gordon Random House, $12.95, 291 pp...
...POLISH That's what the New Oxford Review is about...
...Ann Arbor, Mi...
...The fifth is manifestly a victim of Cyprian's purism and high-minded arrogation of authority to himself...
...And again Felicitas has it thrust in her face ad nauseam...
...48106 U.SA...
...ing attention...
...In this new establishment, 'nature' is exalted in theory, but in terms curiously similar to Cyprian's at the farm...
...Here, by one of the awful accidents, or designs, of love, she encounters a very 19 June 1981:375 different sort of man, a fatally handsome, and fatuous, professor of modern political philosophy, Robert Cavendish...
...His is a quantum leap in understanding, informed by a new awareness of the inestimable value and sweetness of human 19ve...
...There seems less reason than before for him to fear, as he does, that he has betrayed his vocation in favor of the" terrible ringed accident of human love...
...In this novel, Mary Gordon has undertaken something considerably more difficult than the subject of Final Payments...
...Even Cyprian rallies round with an offer to help build a simple house for 4 them near the one he has built for himself on the site of his parents' old farm in upstate New York...
...Moreover, we unabashedly champion the Pope in his struggle to save Christian orthodoxy from Hans Kung and all the other questionable theologians who have had a field day undermining the faith and morals of a generation of Catholics...
...The salt of the earth," Cyprian calls her...
...Still, like the rest, she can not only forgive him, she would die for him...
...He has made his most important point...
...15 (regularly $24) NAME (Please print or type) I m STREET ADDRESS I m CITY STATE ZIP CODE (regularly $11) (Payment must be drawn in U.S...
...Father Cyprian has once terrified, and infuriated, the adolescent Felicitas, when she speaks of her pleasure in the beauty of the natural world, particularly in the fragrance of grasses, on a drive with him in the country one fine summer day...
...As a young child, she fully returns Father Cyprian's love for her, even as she comes with time to realize what he will do to her life and...
...Felicitas matters much more to him than 9 the others, but he sees her with an~equally flattening eye: she is to embody the realization of all his hopes...
...He has likewise been able to attract to himself a company of women, but far more slavish women, who live in the seraglio he has set up in the process of freeing them from the old--or any--order of existence...
...He is able to see the pride and fastidiousness that have moved him from the outset of his vocation, and to see what a trial he has been to his superiors and fellow-priests...
...Conversation in this household is usually stoned, entirely predictable, and ineffably boring...
...She wants, too, to be more human, and to escape what she .~ feels to be a growing cruelty of judgment in herself that she hopes will be assuaged by sexual love...
...Whether or not by design, a modern Cyprian, who plays a central role in Mary Gordon's fine new book, is reminiscent of his ancient namesake...
...London WlN 7RA England failure of 'spirituality,' he stops with her at the run-down farm of an odious family he knows, where he introduces her violently to the smells which for him represent nature: handsful of cow dung, chicken dung, and pig dung, calling this last the most aromatic of all because, as he tells her, "pigs eat garbage, like the mind of modern man...
...It is Composed of beautifully written and extremely moving meditations in the distinctive voices of each of these women, 'and of Father Cyprian, who must in effect now choose death or life, after a heart attack...
...Cyprian's highest praise of her is that she "thinks like a man," and he is of course incapable of understanding that this implies an affront both to herself and her friends...
...Sally Fitzgerald doctors who adjudge him to be hopelessly insane...
...He realizes how much he has needed them all, and how generously they have responded...
...And here's what others are saying about us: Newsweek calls us "a thoughtful and often cheeky monthly" and praises our "childlike exuberance," Pastoral Renewal says we're "sharply written and well.edited...
...But the best is yet to come, for Michael Novak judges us "a cutting edge in American religious thought," and the Library Journal has augustly announced that "this fine journal will doubtless command increas...
...I had to learn ordinary happiness," he thinks, "and from ordinary happiness the first real peace of my life, my life which I wanted full of splendor...
...Charlotte retires and 4 moves there, too, and Elizabeth moves in to help...
...As she realizes, what he really mourns is her marriage to a friend of his, a former seminarian whom he has hoped to make his own disciple...
...I wanted to live in the unapproachable light, the light of the pure spirit...
...The novel, with the exception of the somehow contrived and unbelievable university scenes, is skillfully and richly narrated in its first two parts...
...Ironically, now that he might correct and amplify his previous instruction, she can, or will, no longer talk to him about it...
...There she awaits his summons to bed as it pleases him, when her turn comes...
...He would make of her a denatured, desexed disciple, a mind perfected in his own image...
...But Cyprian's "grand, impossible life," or the idea of it, she knows she will always need at the center of her own...
...I wake and see in the thin, early light the faces of my friends...
...As Charlotte reflects: "There they are, five old women waiting for an old man to die, living in the country with a young woman and a kid...
...Published 10 times a year by Anglo-Catholics, the New Oxford Review believes the battle for Christian truth is being fought inside all denominations and communions...
...Sickened and rebellious, Felicitas vows to herself never to forgive him, and it is a long time before she does...
...But you can always make your life sound wrong if you try to describe it in a hundred'words or less...
...The third part, however, is the finest of the book...
...Elizabeth is a gentle, fearful, but humorous schoolteacher, deserted by her husband after the death of their child...
...Less able to resist Professor Cavendish's guidance than Father Cyprian's, Felicitas obeys, only to find herself pregnant "by one of two men," as she must tell her mother and, eventually, the daughter who is born to her after she finds herself constitutionally unable to go through with an abortion...
...The final indignity he imposes upon her is the suggestion that she further free herself and increase her experience by extending her favors to someone else, anyone else, say nondescript Richard, who lives downstairs with his three dogs, Ho, Che, and Jesus (which, of the nature-lovers, only Felicitas has the wit and will to feed properly and train...
...She is saved from utter despair by the simple, practical kindness of her mother and her mother's friends, including Cyprian, "people who had rigorously worked to banish instinct from their lives," but whose love for her, unjudgmental and resilient, makes it seem entirely natural to them to alter those lives in order to help her construct a new and sheltering one for herself and her child...
...Until he sees the lumen lumens he has always longed for, the "slant, imperfect sun" will suffice to reflect it...
...This without reference to expert medical opinion or higher canonical authority...
...Poor paranoid Muriel, continuing to fume at the breach of her privilege of sole prox-t imity to Father Cyprian, is no more able to love the child, Linda, than she has been able to love Felicitas or the others, 4 but she does what she can, and she is not excluded...
...He is able to decide that he will pray for the eventual ordination of women...
...30-32 Mortimer Street Dept...
...The priest then decides, however, quite on his own, that she is bound to this hapless marriage because her husband "wasn't insane when (she) married him...
...Brilliant, studious, malleable, she is to be formed by himself into an infallible H61oise, or a Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin, Doctor of the Church...
...Cameron, Francis Canavan S.J., Robert Coles, Joseph Fessio S.J., Carl F.H...
...She will marry for shelter, she sus-V pects, and to give Linda a father and "an ordinary life...
...But Felicitas, even at fourteen and still passionately devoted to him despite her growing rage, knows herself better, and his hopes scarcely resemble her own...

Vol. 108 • June 1981 • No. 12


 
Developed by
Kanda Sofware
  Kanda Software, Inc.