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2014 Winter Linfield Magazine

Giving voice to a 19th century girl On Tuesday, Aug.7, 1877, Marie Bashkirtseff complains to fate: “To die! My God, to die! To die without leaving anything behind me? To die like a dog, like hundreds of thousands of women whose names are barely engraved on their tombs?” Born into the minor provincial aristocracy of the Ukraine under the Czars, Marie moved to France with her family when she was 12. Her family indulged her, supported her ambitions without understanding them and fostered her desire for fame. She did become famous, but only after her death, with the first publication of her Journal in 1887. Widely acclaimed, it became fashionable reading throughout Europe. When my mother, Phyllis Howard Kernberger, retired from teaching in 1973, she came across an 1890 English translation of Marie’s Journal and discovered a new passion that became the focus of her efforts over the next two decades. Comparing microfilms of the original Journal she had obtained from the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris with published versions, she realized how completely Marie’s true voice had been suppressed. She found a new Marie. She saw the vitality, honesty and desperation in Marie and wanted to alter the false picture given by the earlier editions. My mother never lost her commitment to presenting Marie without analysis or interpretation, simply providing the text as it stands. I have tried to do the same. This photo of 16-year-old Marie Bashkirtseff taken in Paris, France, in August 1875 by the famous photographer Walery was featured in a catalog for two exhibits held in Nice in 1995. English Professor Katherine Kernberger recently published the second volume of the Bashkirtseff journals, which are available as e-books. Kernberger worked on The Journal of Marie Bashkirtseff: I Am The Most Interesting Book of All, Volume I & Lust For Glory, Volume II for over two decades and was assisted by 17 Linfield students. Kernberger used the journals in her classes and also taught January Term classes in Nice, Rome and Paris that focused on Bashkirtseff. Opposite page: Katherine Kernberger, professor of English, with a bust sculpted by her husband, Charles Strong, and donated to the Fondation pour la Renaissance de la mémoire de Marie Bashkirtseff. 1 4 - l i n f i e l d m a g a z i n e Winter 2014


2014 Winter Linfield Magazine
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