Cautious Rebel, A Biography of Susan Clay Sawitzky



Cautious Rebel, A Biography of Susan Clay Sawitzky by Lindsey Apple

“Willa Cather wrote that ‘the history of every country begins in the heart of a man or a woman.’ This is the story of the heart—and of the mind—and the conflicts within. It is the country’s story. It is our story.”—James C. Klotter, Director and State Historian, Kentucky Historical Society“Lindsey Apple splendidly reconstructs the life of a woman who was at once ordinary and exceptional. His biography is certain to inform, engage, and challenge.”—Thomas H. Appleton, Jr., editor of The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society“This well written and meticulously documented biography is a case study of how regional heritage, family, and self can combine to restrict the talent and success of an individual. A hostage to the past, Sawitzky epitomizes the American ‘every woman,’ who struggles, compromises, and survives.”—Carol Crowe-Carraco, Western Kentucky University“Cautious Rebel, based upon extensive research in the Susan Clay Sawitzky papers as well as other Clay family papers, will be a significant contribution to historical and literary scholarship and should have an appeal to historians and specialists in American literature—especially those with an interest in poetry.”—Nancy Forderhase, Eastern Kentucky University. Lindsey Apple employs nearly seventy years of Susan Clay Sawitzky’s personal letters and poetry to reconstruct the world of a woman seeking modernity with “the millstone of tradition” upon her shoulders.Women’s studies has been inclined, unintentionally, to create a new elite. Historians have preferred to emphasize progress, particularly when created by women themselves, and biographers have chosen strong, successful women. But the vast majority of women were not activists. Susan Clay Sawitzky’s life shows that tradition and modernity can and did exist simultaneously, creating tremendous complexity in the lives of individuals. Her experiences suggest that compromise may result as much from fatigue as from lack of desire or courage.