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xxxiii people who knew Jane Blaffer Owen considered her a consummate storyteller. Throughout her long life, she told many of the stories and anecdotes that follow, but she always hoped to commit them to a cohesive and meaningful written form. She admitted wondering if enough time had passed to enable some distance from and insight into the experiences of her life. She was in her late eighties when she started writing, around 2003. Jane Owen wrote about one aspect of her life specifically: all that led to and radiated from her New Harmony experiences, from her arrival in 1941 through the early 1970s. A literal chronology was less important to her as an or­ ga­ niz­ ing principle than sequences created spontaneously through natural associations and connections. She borrowed a comparison about her writing style from a ­well-­worn phrase about the difference in one’s religious orientation: following the spirit rather than the letter of the law. Like her oral storytelling, her written narrative flows freely, often jumping from present to past or future; it reminds me of the path of the Cathedral Labyrinth she would walk in New Harmony, which led, albeit circuitously , to the center before retracing the path outward again. While on the current path, the feet attempt to balance between the one just walked and the one yet to come, manifesting in each step on its smooth granite surface the fluid interplay of present, past, and future. Such is the nature of writing from hindsight. As part of the revising pro­ cess, which began in early 2009, she and I consulted a wide array of resources, both her own and archival material, including correspondence, journals, and her previous publications, such From Spoken to Written Words Nancy Mangum McCaslin xxxiv From Spoken to Written Words as forewords and pre­ sen­ ta­ tion papers. We endeavored to support the narrative while also remaining true to the memory. For Jane Owen, the primary purpose of her writing would be to tell the personal story. She would leave to scholars the task of interpreting her legacy. Chartres Labyrinth Image.© Jeff Saward, Labyrinthos Photo Archive. Courtesy of Jeff Saward/Labyrinthos. New Harmony I N D I A N A Jane Blaffer Owen wen My life is for myself and not for spectacle. I much prefer that it be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, than that it should be glittering and unsteady. ​. ​. ​. To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something ­else is the greatest accomplishment. —Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance” ...


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