Monday, 23 May 2016

Whom the Gods Destroyed by Josephine Daskam Bacon (1902)

Josephine Dodge Daskam, later Josephine Daskam Bascon, authored more then forty books, was a pioneer in the Girl's Scouts movement. She also wrote and published in 1915 a seemingly anti-war play in which Jehovah's argues with Wotan and Hercules who is God so that's deserving of a more direct examination.

Her collection of Whom the Gods Destroyed is an interesting one. A selection of the stories focus on the destruction of gifted or free thinking people by their vices or gifts. Two of the stories, "A Little Brother of the Books" and "The Twilight Guests" will probably have the reader feel a bit melancholy. "The Maid of the Mill" meanwhile is a very good ghost story of it's kind, although it is the only supernatural tale of the lot, if one excuses the symbolism in "The Twilight Guests" as nothing more and if one disregards it in "The Backsliding of Harriet Blake", a story, by no means written badly, but which does focus on a rather puzzling fact to the modern reader: namely the universal horror with which the inhabitants of a poor house respond to an old woman declaring her lack of belief in the Holy Ghost, at which point the entire house starts to heckel her and sends for ministers to give her long sermons to logically convince her to believe. That the story is written to support their point of view rather does strike a modern reader as a bit odd, but the book is well over a hundred years old and the writing in it is very fine. It reminds me somewhat of the stories in J.S.Fletcher's "God's Failures", covered on here previously but though none of the tales have a conventionally happy end, one feels somewhat uplifted by the end regardless.

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