Making no compromise with the public taste


On her history:

"Life is just one ecstasy after another."

"My unreality is chiefly this: I have never felt much like a human being. It's a splendid feeling."

On growing up:

"I felt a resentment against God or man for having imposed an incredible stupidity upon the world. And the world had accepted it..."

On music:

"I ecstasied instead of learning. Even my music teachers played to me instead of making me play to them. Though my parents continued to believe that I would become a great pianist, I knew where I stood. I had vicarious experience of the artist's ecstasy without having had to undergo the daily lonely labor of the functioning virtuoso. I have been a cheat, and no one has ever been more rewarded for cheating."

"I have not acted upon the piano, I have been acted upon by the piano."

On amateurism:

"I don't know why it is reprehensible to be a dilettante--at least a sympathetic and expert one. I value my dilettantism."

Margaret Anderson, 1930 Jane Heap, 1927

On The Little Review:

"If I had a magazine I could spend my time filling it up with the best conversation the world has to offer...marvelous idea--salvation."

On her criminal prosecution for publishing Ulysses:

"I looked forward to a jury of my peers, if such could be found. We would have declared Ulysses a masterpiece, and I would not be a criminal."

"One of the sleeping judges awoke and, regarding me with a protective paternity, refused to allow the obscenity to be read in my hearing. 'But she is the publisher,' said John Quinn, smiling. 'I am sure she didn't know the significance of what she was publishing,' responded the judge, continuing to regard me with tenderness and suffering."

On moving:

"I went to a symphony concert. Coming back to the Fine Arts Building I met Ben Hecht. After you have gone, he announced, I'm going to have an electric sign put across this building: 'Where is Athens now?'"

On love:

"In real love you want the other person's good. In romantic love, you want the other person."

On France:

"To define the real beneficence of France you cannot avoid the over-used word 'light.' The light you are so conscious of on rivers, gardens, boulevards, squares, courtyards, cathedrals and fields, seems also to fall upon your spirit. In France I always felt that I could accomplish anything, lightly, under conditions that would remain, no matter how long I procrastinated, ideal."

On Pound:

"I am very fond of Ezra, only it will be more interesting to know him when he has grown up."

On her career as a publisher:

"I foresaw it all accurately...[except] my criminal record for publishing the masterpiece of our generation, 'Ulysses.'"

Margaret, Louise Davidson, Georgette Leblanc At the Chateau de Tancarville

On causes:

"I wasn't born to be a fighter. The causes I have fought for have invariably been causes that should have been gained by a delicate suggestion. Since they never were, I made myself into a fighter."

On art:

"Art to me was a state; it didn't need to be an accomplishment. By any of the standards of production, achievement, performance, I was not an artist. But I always thought of myself as one."

"The blessings I wanted were love and music, books and great ideas and beauty of environment. I have had them all, to a degree beyond my asking, even beyond my imagining."


"An hysteric, pure and simple."
--Gertrude Stein

"A lovely girl quite beyond my eighteen-year-old understanding. Embittered by her beauty and chastity, [men] called her Diana, the frigid huntress. I forgave her her chastity because she was a genius."
--Ben Hecht

"Her genius lay not in her words, or facility, style, truth, or erudition; it was the way she expressed ideas, effortlessly and creatively, as she went along. Her ideas provoked challenge and provided opportunities for argument, agreement, or resistance.
--Hugh Ford

"She has her modest niche in the literary Valhalla."
--James Moore

"Margaret, you have not written a is a flash-back of yourself. It is charming, Margaret, as you are charming, will always be charming."
--Sherwood Anderson

"She reminds you of Mary Garden, Isadora Duncan, Lysistrata, Sappho, all packed into one dynamic personality."
--Edna M. Levey

Margaret Caroline Anderson
26 November 1886 - 19 October 1973

All photos on this page are reprinted from the three volumes of Margaret Anderson's autobiography and from the Flanner-Solano Collection, Library of Congress, Washington, DC. The paired photos of Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap were taken by Berenice Abbott.

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