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38

Desert Journey

OST OF THE TIME I forget why I married L. and that I am his disciple. Therefore, often filled with resentment at the hardships I have had with him: the sacrifice I made to be with him,” Edna had written in her diary shortly prior to the April hearing before the court referee.1 She had only recently received another of Scott’s letters, sent in response to her tenpage letter to him. Though married, she could not help but maintain a passionate correspondence with her former lover, even against her better instincts. Her letter, written in answer to Scott’s desperate cry several weeks earlier, had filled him “with joy and sorrow and pounding of heart; it blurred my eyes with tears and made my hands ache to touch you.… I have two mistresses and a fiance. And I am so Goddamn lonely for Woman that my bones ache and try to wrench themselves out of my flesh.” Would that they had had the courage to stop the marriage to Ludwig and affirm what each meant to the other. Instead, “we go down into littleness of meaning because all our words are lies.”2 Mounting difficulties and “sacrifice” would slowly gain for Scott’s analysis a dangerous credibility in her thoughts.

“Ludwig thinks he’s an easy person to live with,” but she had found him “very difficult for several reasons”—the greatest of these, her unfulfilled sexual needs. “I miss matching ecstasy,” she had further noted that April, though he had assured her that his sexual appetites had not diminished, proclaiming, “There are only two things worth doing in life, and they are fucking and praying; and they are the same thing.” But what had attracted her to Ludwig was what now made living with him day after day ever more impossible. “He is a genius with the attendant tremors and moods caused by his hyper-sensitivities.” Their point of commonality, of meeting, was “that we have the same soul. Once in a while we talk together and it is thrilling.” But she needed more than a chance “meeting”; insufficient was the satisfaction she once believed would be hers by simply making him happy. She had submerged her own self and its needs, and after the initial thrill of their first year had worn thin, exacerbated by continuing legal battles for a child she loved but whose custody fight had proven too absorbing, she was seeking some change, perhaps even flight—though she was still many months away from admitting this to herself. “I married L to make him happy, but one cannot live on the desire to make someone else happy. At least I can’t. I am too narcissistic and egotistic, attention-wanting. So I must convert that original desire into something else that has meaning for me.”3

Time would demonstrate that she could not, nor that she should have expected the impossible. The conflict within herself only deepened. Writing to Scott and asking that he disguise his letters so as not to upset Ludwig, she could write Ludwig with equal sincerity of feeling during their separation that first week of June. “Yes, I love being married to you too. In a way, in many ways, we were ripe for each other. Somehow most other couples don’t seem to be ready for each other, or something. Not feeling very profound or analytical at the moment, just wanton and happy about you and only glad for the separation because the remeeting will be so wonderful. Oh my darling, you are so lovely. We have such enormous fun together.”4 And again the next day, reflecting on the “frustrating and maddening business” of this latest appeal and on how, for Ludwig’s sake, she was attempting “to become integrated into her own family, to make a warm place for you,” though she would otherwise be “essentially outside of it,” she could write with honesty and conflicted loyalties, that “Yes, Ludwig, I feel you loving me and am warm in the feeling. It means everything to me because I have led a lonely and cold life.… I know that you feel me loving you too. All my thoughts are of you. I hold your heart in my two hands, and can’t wait until I actually hold you in my arms.”5

Ludwig, still in New York and awaiting the court’s final assault, would respond out of a naive abandonment of all powers of perception, unaware or unwilling to see that their relationship was unraveling. Like Edna, he was focused inward and saw his spouse’s needs as a function of his own. “I’ve been cold and lonely and isolated all my life too. Completely so. Till I saw you. I never trusted anyone; my nerves never trusted anyone. I’ll be alone no more and you won’t so long as I live and I’ll try my damndest to live long.”6

Yet, the very next day, reflecting on her thirty-third birthday, Edna would write an impassioned letter of despair to Scott acknowledging how grave an error she had committed in leaving him for Ludwig.

My chere, The darkness closes in on me…. Everything is grey to me. Strange how the world fell apart when I betrayed us. When spring came I remembered how I used to love it, but I have regretted the last two springs because they were only mockeries. I don’t even like them anymore. I am ineffably listless and life is dust on my teeth…. Everything you ever said is true; and I had to learn it in such a hard way. You were true to me…. Your letters are the secret hope and happiness, the only one, of my life. Wherever I am I think of them as being here safe and waiting for me, true and alive. When I am reading your words I am myself, responsive, alive.

Edna thought of leaving Ludwig, but worried that she hadn’t “changed essentially” and would revert to her old complaining self. She didn’t want to rejoin Scott until she could present a better self. “Sometimes I have to control myself from hopping a bus and coming to you, straight, straight across the country into your arms.” And then there was “the dependence of my dependents,” those of her small family to whom she felt a moral tie, particularly at this most desperate moment. It was not love as they had known it, she graphically reassured her former lover. “I have never felt anything or had even the first tremor of an orgasm. The only consolation I have is that once I loved with you and lived in the dark forest and heard the great music. And how many women have?”7

Ludwig and Jim’s arrival in Rochester the following day, and the news of Thelma’s victory at week’s end, had only served to heighten these doubts. Dinner with Elise Asher that Friday night, hours after the court news had reached them, gave Edna “many new insights into Ludwig” as he spoke with new emotion of the insecurity and disappointments he had suffered from throughout his life. How much of what he said was amplified by her we cannot know, but filtered through her own needs for fulfillment and escape, she saw in Ludwig a man too long past the point at which he could acknowledge to himself “that he has much to offer” a woman, “36 years too late.” His parents had been overly demanding, not really “lov[ing] him” but only “the justification of their being that he would bring to them through his gifts.” His brilliance was to set right “their unhappy lives.” Nor had the College of Charleston wanted him “because of himself as a human being”—only, again, “because of his brilliance.” His slight stature and unorthodox features had added to this self-doubt, creating in him “a sense of not being attractive to any attractive woman,” ultimately forcing him “to have an affair with Crump, an older woman whom he thought was attracted by his mind and spirit and with whom he didn’t feel inferior.” But this, too, proved not to be the case as she fled from impending penury to him, deepening his insecurities as he failed to satisfy her financial needs, their relationship steadily growing uglier. Thelma’s music bewitched him “so that to his list of personal liabilities had been added the notion of sensual enslavement,” driving him to deny his love of music as “a poison to the senses and the imagination,” pointing beyond himself to its ill-effects upon the German people. He now feared that “this tragedy over Jim” would destroy “his life with me, which he says is the one thing he has always wanted.” He admitted to her that without money, he could no longer make her happy. “This again comes from his unsureness of himself as an attractive and satisfying male.”

Yet however she felt about their relationship, Edna was deeply troubled about Ludwig’s mental state. How could she “make Ludwig sane and happy again” when he was so “very mixed up,” believing himself a “failure” and the cause of her unhappiness and, therefore, thinking he “should punish himself by degrading himself in his own mind. I am afraid for Ludwig,” she admitted only to herself, knowing that if this marriage had once had any possibility of survival, it was fast disappearing. “It becomes, each day, more difficult for us to talk—L not only does not want to burden me with his Troubles, but his spasms caused his self-punitive mechanism, every time he looks at me. I am constrained and constipated in his atmosphere; unspontaneous: therefore cannot break through his walls within walls, and here we sit, tortured together.” If only she could break through her own walls, if not his. Caught in this maze, she could only hope to find a creative catharsis, perhaps the contemplated novelette she had spoken to Scott about, to be based upon their correspondence. Thinking back to Elise that evening and to their discussion of her recently published poetry, Edna noted that at least “she doesn’t need to fear death now that she has been able to say something that will remain.”8

The depression that settled over Ludwig and Edna in the weeks immediately following Jim’s departure and subsequent disappearance, Thelma having again sent him away while refusing to disclose his whereabouts,9 was somewhat lifted by an invitation for Ludwig to lecture in California that fall. “I was quite excited about it,” Edna recorded on June 29.10 In the interim, Ludwig pushed forward with one or another publication or distribution scheme, attempting to revive several of his earlier works for book club sales, but without much success.11 Only Renegade appeared to garner any real interest, as a member of the Jewish Publication Society board, Edwin Wolf II, lent the society five hundred dollars to pay Ludwig a royalty advance.12 The money would see him and Edna through much of the summer while he recovered from the emotionally costly events of the spring and dealt with the society’s desire to have him scale down his critical comments in the novel concerning the Catholic Church, some of which he ultimately would refuse to make, as Solomon Grayzel of JPS rightly conjectured to Maurice Jacobs. In the shadow of a rising tide of anti-Semitism, much of it awakened by the “Radio Priest,” Father Coughlin, their fears seemed well founded, if, in hindsight, too cautious and lacking in the kind of self-assertiveness which Ludwig had long advocated and which became more commonplace in the decades that followed the Holocaust. “Having read the book again, I am more than ever convinced that it is a good book,” commented Grayzel. “I am not sure that Lewisohn will want to make all the changes suggested. The only ones I am really concerned with are the ones dealing with the Church.” Not that he believed Ludwig inaccurate in his judgments. “Some of the references to the immorality in the Church are very clever and I do not doubt that they were true for the period, but they cannot appear under our imprint.”13 It would, of course, be a negotiated settlement, worked through in the course of these many weeks, but Ludwig was less willing now to make dramatic changes than he might have been before the new war and this latest legal battle.

Completing “1933 and After,” a 120-line poem, on August 1, 1941, he noted, after detailing the Christian West’s disregard for the Jews’ tragedy, that it would win the war while “Israel lies broken” and “Palestine hearts begin to harden.” “Who will in their glory” come to “Israel’s aid in this post-war period”? Not one “who has forgotten 1933,” who “for humanity” will be “quite ready … / To turn the knife in Israel’s side”—not those “liberal gentlemen [who] over their wine / plan blandly how to soothe the Arabs’ pride / Whose broad dispeopled Empires gaping wide / Need not that alien promise Palestine.” Oh, “Peace now—till next time, all men exult,” he sneeringly mocked, while defending his own cynical critique and warning.

       Of course this argument is different.

       It sounds both mystic and reactionary

       And does not chime, whatever might it carry,

       With all accepted forward looking views.

       And don’t forget: nobody likes the Jews.14

By late August the changes in Renegade had been made, though Maurice Jacobs was still awaiting page proofs on September 4, anxious to begin to announce its future publication, but waiting for it to “meet with the approval of our Publication Committee” before sending out the necessary publicity to the membership.15 Ludwig, confident of the book’s success, asked the society to co-sign a loan for him, payable to the Baron de Hirsch fund upon payment by the society to him of the second half of his advance, due upon publication.16 Fiscally conservative as well, the society advised Ludwig to go instead to the Hebrew Free Loan Society.17 With no alternative left, Ludwig surrendered his Riverside Drive apartment so that the money saved would allow Edna to accompany him to California. Renegade was to be serialized in the Yiddish daily newspaper Morgen Journal under the title Der Baal Tesbuvah (one who returns to a religious Jewish life). But it would not provide the level of income needed.18

Edna was anxious to go west, but her reasons were mixed, for Scott was in Los Angeles. “Ludwig told me yesterday that he was as pedantic as a youngster as he is now,” obsessive about the arrangement of his possessions in his room, unwilling to be disturbed while reading alone day and night, “appalled” by the very “idea of games … when all those unread books stood waiting on the book shelves, and all those languages to be learned, and all knowledge waiting for him!” He had, as he admitted to Edna, lost much of his faith in the power of knowledge since then, having seen it so easily overwhelmed,19 but he had, nonetheless, retained his pedantry. “He has so concentrated on mind that his life between mental sessions has no continuity. He cannot merely live…. [Rather] he has to force his will on the world in order not to have its will forced on him.”20 For all of his brilliance and fame and the excitement he brought her as she moved in circles wider than she had ever hoped, Ludwig, after Scott, was an increasingly disappointing husband. “One reason L. is unsatisfactory as a lover is that he is so wary of life in himself that he neither wishes to attempt death nor dares to. And to love you must yearn for death in the body of the beloved.” Fearful of surrendering to the uncertain, he ended by having “tilled the same acres for too long: they are, it seems to me tilled down to the rock. Emotionally, if not intellectually. He has so loved the mind that he has never looked for the things the body could give him.”

Though their life together would continue for nearly two more years, Edna clearly knew that, in its most important sense of two souls meeting on common ground, their marriage had died. With the detached language of an analytical observer, as if speaking of others, she recorded in her diary on August 10 the very sense of suffocation she was experiencing, despite the continuing efforts by both to involve the other in their individual private worlds.

His conceptions and ideas came out of his mouth so perfectly formed that it was exciting to listen to him. But you were a spectator at his creative joy in the workings of his own mind. What he had to say was so exquisitely boxed, so air-tightly ribboned, that there was no room for anything else to be put in…. You got snowed under by the perfectly finished replies. And so it was necessary to go by yourself and fill your own packages. Not that he didn’t take joy in seeing the packages that you produced, but it made for separate creativity; aloneness. No box was ever filled by both of you, no life arose from the marriage between you.21

It simply couldn’t work. Neither had a total picture of each other or of themselves. She began to see this earlier than he, but in time he would admit to as much as well. For the moment, still, he saw in her what he wanted, as she had done with him. “I should have brought no sorrow to you, only joy and strength,” Ludwig had written her in June, sensing defeat in what he had hoped to give out of his love for her. “But people like you and me,” he continued in an attempt to explain what had gone wrong, “seem to have to pay for what they are, for their divine and dangerous differences. Man is unwilling to let us help him and so, by and large, we are persecuted.”22

“Naturally, I have thought again,” Edna wrote Scott, less than three weeks later, nearing the eve of her departure for California with Ludwig. “Every time I see or talk with any mortal—the necessity for breaking the pattern, strongly and heroically. God. Crashing it. And I go mad for a little while.” But always the same thought made her hesitant—that she hadn’t yet put behind her the need for “justifying myself to the family” that had led to so much tension between herself and Scott. She had come “to the end of being able to carry more hurting of people on my shoulders.… I am basically no stronger a mortal than I ever was.” Yet how she still loved him, and looked to the day when they would once again be together. “We must draw strength from each other, the sense of each other being in the world, the eyes looking into each other’s.” He was all that mattered to her, the only thing of which she had any memory. “How when you came one by one the things in the room began to light up, and how, one by one, when you left, the light went out of them.… Be alive always,” she pleaded. “I watch over you while you sleep. Am looking into your eyes when you awake. No strand separates.”23

In the weeks that remained before their train to the coast, Ludwig attended to an assortment of business and personal matters. Refugees and anti-Nazi groups continued to appeal for his support, involving him in a variety of rescue and publication activities, including the Legion for American Unity’s attack against Charles Lindbergh’s defense of Hitler’s Germany. “Civilization cannot survive, half-slave and half-free,” it declared, a position Ludwig had taken numerous times in the last decade, alienating him from elements of both the Right and the Left.24 He had, however, begun to receive some indication of renewed acceptance within Zionist circles, and, feeling confident of a fair hearing, submitted a portion of a new play to Hadassah, the women’s Zionist organization, hoping that they might wish to produce it.25 Though never completed, it demonstrated Ludwig’s beginning ascent out of the depression that had seized him some months earlier.

So, too, did his latest attempt to regain custody of Jim beginning in late August.26 In retaliation, Thelma had her lawyer send him a letter alleging that he had called Jim and had “made certain threats, which not only left disturbing effects upon the child” but would now result in Thelma’s prolonging her denial of visitation—even though Ludwig had no idea where Jim was or how to contact him.27 Two weeks later, Thelma filed a complaint in court against Ludwig for nonpayment of child support for the past three weeks,28 Ludwig having used his only remaining leverage in trying to force Thelma to reveal where Jim was living. She would fight on, but by the time Thelma was back in court, Ludwig and Edna were already in California.

Leaving on October 11, they had a picturesque but uneventful railroad crossing. Ludwig kept to himself while Edna, “inclined to gregariousness,” spoke with her fellow passengers. But mostly they shared a respite from their tense lives, aided by the spectacular views and the fresh vistas of mountain, forest, and desert. “The time goes quickly: easy to become adjusted to train life. We live about the same as usual, eat, read, write, sleep, walk when train stops. It is all very relaxing. Both slept well again last night. Bowels continue to move, etcetera. Easy to live this way indefinitely.” But, of course, they couldn’t. Already, while in Reno, a telegram had reached them that a welcoming party would greet them when they arrived in San Francisco on the fifteenth, and would take them to their room at the Fairmont Hotel so that Ludwig could rest before beginning his extensive schedule of lectures.29

Edna felt renewed by travel and the experience of a new land. Ludwig lectured throughout the San Francisco-area Jewish community—in Oakland, at the Berkeley Hillel, in Stockton, and at the Jewish community center of San Francisco—while together they explored the city, immersing themselves in its many neighborhoods as they dined and shopped and attended the theater, and found Chinatown “simply unbelievably fascinating.” There was to be a dinner in their honor on the twentieth, Edna noted, somewhat bemused by all the unexpected attention she, too, was receiving.30 Lunching with Ludwig’s old friends from Palestine, Reuben Rubin and his wife, they spoke of art in the Yishuv and of Rubin’s show in Hollywood, and of his painting a portrait of the son of a mutual friend, Edward G. Robinson. The four followed their meal with a visit to Gumps Art Gallery to view Rubin’s exhibition amid the other treasures, including a Cézanne self-portrait selling for sixty thousand dollars in a private “back room with olive green trappings and muted lights,” to which the gallery owner, with Rubin’s introduction, had admitted them. “I’m too much in the midst of things to describe anything accurately,” Edna cautioned her family when relating the day’s events. “Well there we sat and talked and then looked through the collection rooms until we were satiated with beauty.” Excusing themselves from their hosts, they “ran out into the commonplace and bought a pound of American candy and came home here to eat candy and un-lax.” But the phone soon rang with greetings from Edna’s college friend, a woman with whom she had had a brief relationship during a period of sexual exploration—a woman with whom she had maintained contact long after it had ended. “It was good for me to see her,” she recorded after they dined together with Ludwig and “did the town” at the friend’s invitation. “She gives me nothing and loves me in spite of all my faults.” San Francisco proved to be all that Edna had hoped it might, “a cosmopolitan city, filled with life. Next to it every place but N.Y. looks and feels like a country town.” It was that “very gay and irrational city” she “always knew [she would] like,”31 and to which she would return the following decade with her fourth husband, before moving on to join Henry Miller’s Big Sur colony, and then back again after the breakup of this next marriage, and before her last to a wealthy, landed Englishman.

Ludwig had been lured westward in part because of the possibility of a screenwriting position, as so many other writers of repute had during these years. But from San Francisco it already looked to Edna as if “the Hollywood writing job is just a fraud.”32 Still, Ludwig had sufficient lecture commitments to make the trip profitable—an opportunity, from the start, to stir the waters by declaring America to be endangered by its own complacency. “The institutions under which we live are fundamentally good … the products of human nature…. Our constitution recognizes private profit and personal freedom which are as natural as eating and just as inevitable.” But Americans had grown apathetic to the ideals that protected them, focusing, instead, upon the notion that “civilization consists of gadgets.” Perhaps, mused “the massive, short, energetic man … beads of perspiration … on the brow” as he was being interviewed in his hotel room, only the bombing of New York would relieve the country of this misperception. Similarly, America, even Jewish America, was quietly standing by as “the Fascist tide that is engulfing the world [and] is opposed to everything we hold dear” threatened to “take ground here” if it should succeed in Europe. “We already have the seeds. We have had them since the days of the natavistic Know-Nothing movement of the 1850s.” With Edna photographed beaming by his side, Ludwig declared the isolationist Lindbergh “our best exponent of the Fascist technique … [that] lulls the people while the changes are being made.” Instead of the dozens of planes and tanks being manufactured for shipment to allies, America, he insisted, must produce these weapons by the thousands in preparation for “an out-and-out declaration of war on Germany.… Let’s hope the slumberer stirs before it is too late.”33 “The greatest crisis in civilization today,” he concluded, “is the apathy of the American people.”34

Arriving in Los Angeles on October 29, Ludwig held another interview the following day, the reporter noting how for more than two decades “he has steered his mental course free of the rocks and rapids of dogmatic thinking.” Attacked from all sides over the years, Ludwig told the newspaper that he was now “chuckling” as others were scrambling from one orthodoxy to the next in search of new positions in a rapidly changing world. “I am a conservative,” Ludwig assured his listener. “True, I was well to the left, the individualistic left, back in the days I was on the Nation. But don’t get me wrong. Conservative comes from the word conserve and that means preserve. That’s what I mean. I haven’t shifted my fundamental position a bit. I’m an ardent individualist.” Why the focus upon religion? he was asked. It was, he answered, the only remaining “springboard … in human affairs.” Under the current assault from both Hitler and Stalin, “We must save what we can of civilization, the best in Jewish and in Christian thought.” His experience in Germany in 1932 and his reading of the Soviets’ destruction of religious institutions—with the same special focus in both instances—were indications, blatant enough, that the world was in danger of returning to the most primitive slave state of past ages. “We have got to get away from Karl Marx and Adolph Hitler and get back to Moses and Jesus.” As to the fate of Central and Eastern European Jewry, it was clear to Ludwig that half were already lost. Neither the United States, with its increasingly restrictive immigration policies, nor Latin America would offer refuge. Only Palestine remained as the remnant’s salvation. Such a solution, he admitted, had only half of American Jewry’s support, many fearing the charge of disloyalty. “They are in a tight spot,” given the heightened anti-Semitism in the country. “I think I know what should be done,” he stated with a shrug of uncertainty about the future.35

A full schedule of lectures and radio shows during their two-week stay filled much of Ludwig’s time. Accompanying these were the unending rounds of social occasions, with drinks at Edward G. Robinson’s or dining a table away from Clark Gable and Carol Lombard. Surrounded by stunning sunsets and desert scenes, with mountains looming nearby and the glitter of Hollywood ever present, life seemed almost magical. Two young agents attached themselves to Ludwig and arranged appointments at all the major studios. The “ball is rolling,” Edna reported to her father on their third day in Los Angeles. Ludwig would write a script for Katherine Hepburn based on Edna’s early years. There was talk of buying several of his novels for the screen (particularly For Ever Wilt Thou Love), and of his doing a number of translations of German film scripts and other adaptations. Even Robinson was convinced of Ludwig’s imminent success and refused to say good-bye in the belief that his friend would soon be settling in this new world.

Yet Edna would have liked more for herself out of the experience than to be in his shadow. She had already grown more exhausted than was healthy for her, and without commensurate reward. “I’m better at this than I used to be at the moment of contact, but there’s all the anticipation and then the reverberations afterward, and when the dates come too close and fast, the anticipation and reverberations get confused and you do get a little woozy.” If only she could have had some time for herself, to spend as she wanted. “I’d like to go with some one I like to the top of one of the mountains and talk about life and love and art and pick an orange and eat it and sprawl out on the cactus. But no—that ain’t allowed you.” She was, for the moment, resigned to play her role and to enjoy all that she could, if not always as she wanted. “We are having a wonderful time, and I’m sure it’s very good for us,” she wrote her father that third day, as if to convince herself. “Ludwig says to tell you that I’m a good kid … and that he enjoys living with me and is very grateful, so I’ll add that he isn’t dull to live with either.”36

Where, she wondered, was her place in all the excitement surrounding her husband? Her own sense of self felt diminished by this fantasy world where no one seemed to “really know that there’s a war.” Even their own troubles seemed light-years away now. A warrant had been issued for Ludwig’s arrest in New York drawn on Thelma’s complaint of nonsupport of Jim, but Edna (with Ludwig’s apparent involvement) easily dismissed it by telling her father that they would soon send him money which was to be apportioned weekly.37 In the end, though, it was all so confusing for her, at once pleasurable and troubling. They would visit a film set, watch Veronica Lake shoot a scene, talk with Stella Adler (“I was so overcome by her”), catch a glimpse of Basil Rathbone (“short, tired, and rather loosely-fat”) and Martha Raye (“fattish, very common, almost lewd looking”)38—yet, she felt empty afterward and abandoned by Ludwig’s involvement in a world beyond their marriage. “It’s Hollywood that is separating us,” she wrote her sister-in-law;39 but it was far more than that. She knew the truth, and painstakingly avoided contacting Scott with the excuse that “an hour would be no good,” though she would see his mother as a gesture of appreciation for all that Mrs. Williamson had done for her during the early weeks of her first bout with tuberculosis.40 It was as close as she dared come to facing herself. She had only to wait out the days before leaving for Tucson with Ludwig on November 13.

“They tell us that life here is very lazy,” she wrote her sister-in-law Adele three days after their arrival in Arizona. “It’s the air: you’re really sleepy and yawny…. Maybe also it’s the Indians. They’re so big and slow-moving; the atmosphere gets in your blood.” Every shade of complexion was to be found among the city’s people, nearly all of whom seemed relaxed and happy. “You hear booms of laughter all over.… Everyone but the Indians laugh,” she noted in witness to their apparent unhappiness with the state of affairs under which they were now forced to live. “After all, this was their land, and we stole it from them. A very unpretty story.” To Edna, the Indians, like the Jews, were a people whose suffering she could again identify with through her own feelings of persecution by disease. In time, she would grow to admire the Southwestern culture and become intimate with a sculptor of its Indian population. Yet, for now, her sense of unease continued, transferring the internal climate of self and marriage onto the cosmic stage. For all that she found fascinating in Tucson, as in San Francisco and Los Angeles, there was something wrong, though as yet it remained ill-defined. “The twilights make you feel as though the few people you love had all died that afternoon. I can hardly bear them.”41

Ludwig, of course, had come to Tucson for rest and work, planning to remain there until winter’s end, pleased to be without the “social frivolities” they had known in Hollywood. Edna had decided to do the book based on Scott’s letters (though he was unaware of this use of his material), while Ludwig would work on his lucrative Hollywood assignment, the translation of Franz Werfel’s The Song of Bernadette, which ultimately would become a highly successful film. Ludwig was the logical writer for the task, having already translated Werfel for the Zionist extravaganza of the mid-1930s, and knowing intimately so many of Los Angeles’s émigré community, among them Thomas Mann, Lion Feuchtwanger, and Jules Romains. They “break one’s heart,” he told a Tucson reporter on November 15. “They have not only been robbed of their language, but of their sustenance. What have they to say? What can they write now? They are stunned, bewildered…. These cultured continentals cannot comprehend many of the things they find here. They find no means of communicating with this life.” How could they when even Ludwig still could not in certain instances? “If I live to be 91, I shall never understand American men yelling their heads off at a football game,” nor the belief that a high school education was sufficient for a good life. “As close to these refugees as any other American,” he took upon himself the responsibility in the decade ahead of securing publishers and translators for their work, and in some instances would undertake the translations himself.

Of world events, he told the reporter, there was great cause for concern. “What I cannot understand is that there is no fire in anyone”—Americans, others around the world, “even my own people, whom I felt would surely rise inspired under the persecutions of their fellows.” More than apathetic, they appeared “frightened … wish[ing] only to find some hole into which they may escape when there is no escape. The situation must be faced,” he assured his listener, pronouncing it “grave” at best.

So, too, was the current state of American literature, where men had been reduced to “economic units instead of men as human beings with soul. This new impersonalization troubles me,” and made him “utterly sick” of novels about “the underprivileged masses.” What had happened to the “grand passion, the exalted fire of a great love”? Even the protagonist of a love story was now more often than not a shopkeeper or waitress. “But I want none of the business details, I want to know about that heroine as a human being, about the soul of her. Dreiser gave us the soul of his Sister Carrie … for all the realism to which some objected. At least he did not clutter his story with economic matters.” And even when these “young writers” tried to write of love, they failed, leaving out that extra bit of the spiritual present in all true acts of love. “When you take that plus away you have a man-made sub-human and men are not sub-human beasts.”

In some crucial way, this dispirited literary trend was tied to the homelessness felt by the émigrés in America and to the American people’s “terror about world events.” Too few great souls had arisen, too few “inspired people” had spoken out to lead. Instead, the “people are pathetically groping, reaching out to anyone who may reassure them about the world.” What could he do? he wondered aloud. “It depresses me that I find throughout the nation this despair and lethargy that cuts through every group, Jew or Christian, young or old.” Having done his best to rouse his nation, he would now tend his own garden, hoping that good judgment would ultimately rule. They would find a house to rent and begin their work.42

A week later, Edna reported to her parents that Ludwig was busy with the Werfel translation, and that she had grown more at home in the desert. “At first the bareness, the scrubbiness of the grass and the lowness of the houses and buildings seems strange: you feel very tall. But at night there’s nothing to come between you and the sky and the great stars seem pluckable.” In so short a time, Edna and Ludwig had become quite settled, rising early to work and retiring with the sun in the evening. “You’ll never believe the hours we have kept this week. The air buoys you up so extravagantly that the body is tired of it by night.… We’re so crazy about it here that we’re a little foolish and go around making weird sounds in the throat.”43 They had found little time for socializing, nor any great need to, in these early weeks, Edna reported to her mother. “We are in an anti-social period, and resent people.… We’re trying not to make any engagements whatsoever for a while.”44

Five days later the world invaded their moment of escape. “We were in the University drug store,” Edna wrote her father on December 7, 1941, “when we heard news about Japan and war this afternoon. It’s a pretty mess all right.”45 Though Ludwig had hoped for the entrance of the United States into the war as the only force capable of stopping the advance of fascism, he was determined not to allow even this news to totally disrupt their retreat from the daily press of events. Three days before the Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor, he had again declared his unending love to Edna as “the living reality [that] breathes and burns at every instant,” feeling “blessed by your beauty and goodness and love and look[ing] forward in joy to every morning because you will be there.”46 The first air-raid alarms sounded in Tucson on December 19, “Sad and discordant … choked sobs and night wails,” as Edna characterized their sound.47 But Ludwig had remained undaunted in his search for a permanent home, now that he had decided to stay on indefinitely. “L. is at his favorite indoor sport—reading the real estate ads in the newspaper,” Edna reported to her mother on the twenty-first. They had even begun to socialize a little, meeting some of the local writers, artists, and other celebrities.48

“We are spending the winter here working and breathing,” Ludwig wrote Upton Sinclair on the twenty-third, thanking him for a copy of his recent book, “anxious for something good to read.”49 Two days later, advance copies of Renegade arrived, offsetting the depressing news of war preparations throughout the country. “The stories in the papers just make you sick,” Edna declared openly to her parents that Christmas Day 1941, herself a lifelong pacifist. The good news was that Ludwig’s translation of Werfel’s Bernadette would be completed by that weekend, allowing him to begin the screenplay he had promised the Hollywood studio. But first he would rest. “I will put him to bed for a couple of days and baby him and then he will do the Hepburn story…. He’s fed up to the teeth with the translation and can’t wait to strike the last period.” Working for two hours each morning, sight-translating, and complaining throughout a period of six weeks, Ludwig finished on schedule.50

Though somewhat ashamed of his involvement with the Werfel translation, later writing Spiro that it showed “immense talent and [was] immensely lousy for a Jew to have written,”51 the boredom it has induced had worked to Ludwig’s benefit, generating a number of thoughts, among them “a terrific idea,” to tell the story of the Jewish miracle that occurred at Horeb, where God made a covenant with the Jews to be a holy nation and to teach righteousness to the nations of the world, that they might follow the path of morality and be saved from evil. “Every blow struck at every Jew throughout the ages attests to the truth of that miracle. There and then came into being that divisive Word, that command of God to man—re-interpreted by Jesus of Nazareth, NOT by Christ and the Church—the disobedience of which has been the Tragedy of Western Man.”

Ludwig would never write this story, nor, in the next several years, find time for historical fiction. If, as he wrote Spiro on the second day of 1942, “the symbol of the disobedience of unfaith in that miracle is our being persecuted,” he would become increasingly involved in the attempt to mitigate that persecution and to heal its survivors in the aftermath of war. The needs of the moment—personal and political—would, as always, take precedence. Tucson, at least, in this brief period of respite, would prove to be the hoped-for escape from the “oppressive impact of personalities and the hatreds and humiliations by which I have been more or less surrounded and beset.”52 In writing to Maurice Jacobs regarding his uncharacteristic lack of involvement in promoting Renegade, he spoke of being “handicapped by being away and so far away. But the advantages of being here have so outweighed the disadvantages that no question of choice could arise.”53 (He need not have worried, as Renegade had been designated a JPS monthly selection and would go out to the entire membership unless individual members requested otherwise.)54 Two weeks later, having finished the “play ordered (sincerely, I hope) by bigwigs on Hollywood lots and now in my agents’ hands,” Ludwig wrote Bennett Cerf that they were “spending the winter in an adobe house of three rooms in the desert with such good results that we hope to make this an annual experience,”55 the letter itself written on stationery engraved with their new address. “Ludwig wants to stay near Hollywood for a year or so and the whole simplicity of the set-up here and the distance from L.’s troubles is so good for him,” Edna wrote her parents.56 “Why writers live anywhere else is a riddle to me,” as Ludwig had himself told Cerf a week earlier.57

Everyone, according to Edna, was excited by Ludwig’s venture into Hollywood, none more than Ludwig himself. “Our Hollywood agents are very enthusiastic over Ludwig’s play for Hepburn, and are having it copyrighted and all that sort of thing.” Having written what appeared to be an acceptable script in less than three weeks, Ludwig’s creative juices began to flow with new possibilities, “small ones thick and fast for Garbo, Edward Robinson, Bette Davis, and will start on the Robinson one soon.” It all seemed such easy money at a time, before being fully drawn back into Zionist circles, when funds were tight. “He goes around crying: ‘I want to be a screen writer,’” she wrote her parents on January 22, “and is at this moment reading plays by other people.”58

However reminiscent of his early years when he wrote serials to pay the bills, screenwriting had left some room for self-expression. Autobiographical, Joy focused on the circumstances and desires of the moment. As the male lead, he portrayed himself as a mere few years older than Joy (Edna), “a dark man with almost black hair inclined to curl at the edges. He is 35 or 6, no taller than Joy but with a sturdiness that comes from both physical robustness and intellectual power. His eyes are brown and a little somnolent when he is not aroused. The hair is already beginning to recede a little from his forehead; his nose is truly the rudder of his face and about his sensuous mouth are lines of discipline.” In the script, they declare their love for one another, wishing that each had been the other’s first love, but content with the realization that “better than to be first love is to be true love, for what is true is likely to be lasting.”

The central conflict of the film was to be Joy’s growing independence from the strictures imposed upon her by her family’s sense of what was proper and what it was she should aspire to. They objected to her impending third marriage as a further destruction of their hopes for her, particularly those of her father, who had wanted to fulfill his own failed dreams through her. Joy’s response to their objections could have been lifted from Edna’s diary, and undoubtedly reflects many of the conversations she had had with Ludwig.

I think I will tell you what I was doing all those years—learning how to live, trying to find out what was right and fit for me. You see all the people I had known—you and all the aunts and all the people here and even Dad and Mom—had never tried to find out what was right for them or what would give them either peace or happiness. They did what someone—who, exactly, by the way: who?—was supposed to want them to do. And they’re all, all miserable. Oh, I’ve never seen such miserable people. They took the scraps that were flung them and thought it was virtuous to be satisfied. They never looked for anything good or great or beautiful. Well, I did. And I made my mistakes and I suffered from them—sometimes in very great pain and humiliation. But I also learned for myself what was good and what was evil—for me. None of you know what beauty is or love or ecstasy or peace. You haven’t tried to know.59

In his letter to Cerf that January, Ludwig spoke of Edna’s working “on the last five chapters of a beautiful and moving novel.”60 The Time of Singing paralleled much of Joy, but in Edna’s story, Ludwig was replaced by Scott. Ludwig had seen in Edna/Joy a fellow traveler seeking what he had in life—the freedom from conventions that robbed the spirit of its life. But that very element which he had sought to celebrate in the script, and would in Anniversary, the novel he would begin on February 1, based upon this earlier treatment, was, in fact, breaking their union irreparably. By approaching ever closer to “what was right and fit for me,” she was less and less of what she had tried to become for Ludwig.

If they discussed much of this freedom-seeking, not all was fair game for conversation. In her diary entry for January 8, 1942, Edna would write, “I am to become de-Judaized. Why? Because I want to be persecuted (as I have been) for myself as an individual and an artist, and not for the faults of a race of which I have no part. I want to be persecuted for what I am, not for what they are.”61 It was a personal revelation, unknown to Ludwig, as was her desire to translate into a “metaphysical book” “the story of her love—her life—the things that happen to her in real life between the many plannings she does for the book.” Had she been missing the real story all along? Was there yet another layer to tear away which the very act of writing helped only to mask? Why not simply write about herself and the love she had known? Determined to rewrite her novel, she had found its focus by March, writing in her journal on the twenty-fourth that The Time of Singing was “A strong dark savage brilliant book full of the essence of mating, of the heart beat and the womb beat and the soul’s palpitation. The libido’s reality versus the social customs of man. The fight for truth and participation in the infinite. The world’s fear of this essence, the infinite. The world’s fear of the whole. The world’s fight against love. The world’s desire for non-feeling comprehension. Why? What makes the sacred taboo?”62

Ludwig was enormously pleased with Edna’s progress on the book, writing Spiro three days before this entry that her story of a “woman’s flight to real freedom” was being written with a “psychological lyricism” rarely found in the best work. But as with all work of unique quality, he feared that she would have trouble marketing the book, and would not escape the “stupid criticism” of reviewers once it appeared. “She believes—really believes—in candor and goodness and life. Her whole book says l’chayyim! And the lusters after death and the scratchers in the mud will not easily forgive her that. Even as they do not forgive me.”63

As expected (“Everybody always gangs up on me!” he had written in his notebook in mid-January), many of the reviewers had misunderstood Renegade when it appeared in early February, often seeing it as merely a historical novel, albeit one masterfully told, as the New York Times critic had judged.64 The New Republic reviewer, however, thought it “pretty shoddy … as a period piece,” though “a sermon with effective moments: the ‘renegade’ Jew can never find inner peace.”65 Milton Hindus, who was to befriend Ludwig in future years and secure for him a return to university life, gave this novel of “the Jew in an alien world” its most balanced assessment, finding “memorable characters … [and] the element of surprise which every story must have to be good.”66

Returning from a brief trip to the mountains and desert near Tucson after completing Joy on January 31, Ludwig felt fortified against all such reviewers by Thomas Mann’s letter approving the novel. Supportive throughout, he commented that it was a “fascinating novel [filled] with light” upon the problem of Enlightenment Europe’s having failed its true test of tolerance, offering little place for the Jew who wished to remain himself.67 Both Mann and Ludwig had witnessed this failure. “I look forward to a long war and to hardships of all kinds. Even yet the right voices fall on deaf ears or ears nearly deaf,” Ludwig wrote Spiro in early March, repeating his claim that it was at its core a struggle for civilization itself. “Western Christendom—as symbolized by the situation in Eretz Yisrael—does not yet know that it is fighting a last-stand battle not for victory or prestige or rubber or tin but for its very life.” It would be the subject of his next novel, told through the story of the British blockading of Palestine against the entrance of Jewish refugees. Only a few weeks earlier, the Struma, carrying 769 Rumanian Jews, having earlier been refused entry and wandering from one port to the next, had sunk in the Black Sea, all lives lost but one. “That’s why I feel it a duty to write that Story of a Ship even though no one hears the voice of warning.”68

But first he would finish his “All American novel,” Anniversary,69 “Because I believe in no such luck,” he had decided not to depend upon Katherine Hepburn’s approval of the script, no matter how confident his agents were. Instead, he was busily writing a story “as American as Grant Wood.” To this income he hoped to add an expanded edition of This People, proposing to Canfield that he write seven new stories.70 To Bennett Cerf he further proposed that Modern Library adopt Creative America, again with some additions to bring it up to date.71

Each of these, aside from Anniversary, would fail to win publishers’ support. He suspected as much, not being overly confident in the American market. And though his Hollywood agents pressed him on a script for Edward G. Robinson,72 he chose to wait for a response to his first offering, assessing the delay to be a likely rejection, which finally came in early May.73 Instead, he would finish Anniversary, plan the Struma story, and work on a translation or two, to “keep the wolf at bay.”74

Ludwig need not have worried so deeply, as Renegade’s success would ultimately justify his faith. And, of course, there were always lectures to supplement his income, as distasteful as they were—first at a Red Cross rally, then for a Victory Book Drive, later before the governor and other state officials in Phoenix, and again in Tucson for the local university’s Phi Beta Kappa, of which he was himself a member. “Ludwig sits morosely on the bed, grunting and philosophizing: says: ‘tell that I’m sick of talking—no one wants to hear me. They listen with their ears and not with their minds!’ Nevertheless, ‘speech’ he will have to do,” Edna noted, adding humorously that “he threatens me with the fact that I’ll probably have to sit next to the governor. Each suffers his little part.”75

With Thelma’s help, Ludwig’s “part” was again growing larger. Her warrant for nonpayment proving ineffectual with Ludwig now residing in Arizona (one reason for his having gone west), she had returned to court in February and filed a motion to attach all royalties from Renegade, thereby blocking all payments until the case could be heard. At that point, Ludwig cut off even the monthly five-dollar check he had been sending for Jim’s allowance, believing correctly that Thelma had been keeping it for her own use.76 Thelma then filed a libel suit against Ludwig and Edna for allegedly defamatory statements made in Haven. But in early April the courts threw out both complaints, the latter for its untimely filing a year and a half after the book’s publication, the other because of her continuing refusal to disclose Jim’s residence or to allow any correspondence between father and son. Desperate, she called Ludwig’s attorney shortly after these rulings, asking for some money, claiming “no hard feelings” and that Jim often asked for his father. There now seemed reason to hope for some break in Thelma’s unflagging resolve, Ludwig’s attorney advised. She was almost out of money.77

Other bright spots began to appear on the landscape as well that spring. With the decision to remain in Tucson indefinitely and much of the planned-for work completed, or nearly so, Ludwig and Edna determined that it was time to expand their social horizons. There had never been a problem of isolation, only self-imposed exile. Edna reported on March 11 that it was tourist season, which meant that the rodeo was in town, along with thousands of visitors from around the country. After weeks of monastic life, they were appreciative of the change, which included friends from Los Angeles and involvement in the intellectual and artistic circles of the city. Much of the talk of the moment centered around the war and politics, with one offensive physician attempting to explain “the ‘cripple’ psychology of Roosevelt!!!! Lord, to what depths people have sunk over that man,” Edna exclaimed in disgust. “War—war—it is going to be so bad,” she added, reflecting how their former butler, Theodore, had written to say that he was drafted, “and you know how insane they are to the colored people, and yet they’re expected to give their lives for the doubtful benefits they receive from democracy.”78 Even Ludwig was required to register for the draft, leaving him to wonder if he would be called as an interpreter.79 He and Edna could, at least, unlike Theodore and so many others, continue their private lives relatively undisturbed, except that the local federal authorities were calling in all typewriters by March 31, leaving Edna to request that her parents ship hers from home.80

Among their new acquaintances was Margaret Sanger, who had moved to Tucson after the last war in search of a change from the bruising struggle for contraceptive rights. Together with other local notables, Ludwig and Edna spent the evening of February 22 discussing the new conflict and the need to “think up some new slogans” for it, believing, as she did, that “it’s time to forget Pearl Harbor.”81 During one visit to the Sanger home, Madame Koo, the wife of the Chinese ambassador to the United States, advised her host that some of her prized Chinese plates were, in fact, Japanese and should be thrown away. Sanger listened tactfully but quickly changed topics, speaking instead about her discussions with Gandhi in years past concerning the control of India’s birthrate. To Ludwig, Sanger was “interesting in a public way, rather than private,” though Edna understood her apparent lack of conversational spontaneity as the result of her having been a public figure for too long. To better become acquainted, Edna planned to have her for dinner at their house, where it would be easier to “be cozy.”

Sanger quickly became enamored of her new friends. “She says she hasn’t had enough of us,” Edna wrote her parents on April 6. Excited about the prospect of Ludwig and Edna taking up permanent residency in Tucson, Sanger offered to sell them a second house she owned, which once belonged to a deceased friend and which she had purchased from the estate, unable to bear having strangers living in it. But it was “too exquisite,” Edna told her parents. “We want a rangey western place with wide open spaces,” much like Sanger’s own modern, large-windowed house “on top of a hill…. Lordy, it was beautiful … and much more to our liking.” What Edna actually wanted was some space that was all her own. “Primitive, but usable” was the only requirement, even if “It may seem hideously selfish.” Such a dream had partly motivated her feverish work on her novel—“a little money for a little more independence.”82 It had even brought her, in violation of her own wish for independence, to propose to her father, only half in jest, that if he were searching for an income tax deduction, she knew of a good charity—“Indigent relative artist, E.M.L., $10,000 a year, or even less.”83 “I need to have somewhere on earth, some little shelter where I could take my spirit when it is taut and bruised from too much detail tension,” adding with confidence that “It will come, no doubt.”84

But years would pass before she would ever truly fulfill this dream. Even before coming to Tucson, Edna had begun to feel tired. Refusing to admit to the signs of another tubercular relapse, she had continued with her work. By May 8, the day after completing Anniversary, Ludwig’s concerns could no longer be dismissed. An examination was scheduled at the Desert Sanitarium, and when she arrived on the eleventh she was admitted immediately. Fearing that his worst suspicions would be realized, Ludwig had already decided to move into the San’s guest court for the duration.85

Edna at first refused to believe that she was seriously ill. To her journal she wrote on the evening of the first day, “I’ve been here 14 hours, and it couldn’t be nicer, but I’m not going to stay long. As long as we have to pay a month in advance, I’ll probably stay a month.” Denying the truth of her situation, she declared herself “in splendid condition,” claiming that whatever problems she was about to experience would be the fault of the sanatorium. “In any institution I will lose weight, bowels will stop functioning, bugs will rare-up, and I will get sick.” Could she endure this limited stay, as she wrongly perceived it would be? “I don’t know where I’m going to get the strength to bear all this a whole month”—“all this” being nurses and doctors and menus (“You can have omelet or omelet and you make a pencil mark under your choice”), and the spectacular view, with its pure air (“I hate scenery”). But most offensive of all were the endless instructions (“not, not, not”), all indicative of the loss of the one thing she wanted most, her freedom. She agreed to her need for rest, “that certainly,” and had relented to Ludwig’s pleadings for an examination. “But rest, not agonize, twist, trim, fear, contract, tremble, long, yearn, rebel…. The only reason I submitted to coming here in the first place was because I wanted to be alone—I had kind of forgotten that that isn’t the way it is, sad fool.” Rejecting all thoughts that she would again be hospitalized for many years, she told herself that “as long as I am not in a cast, [I] can leave and certainly will do so at [the] first opportunity. I simply cannot endure lack of all freedom, or lack of my part of freedom.… I have to have space in which to let my soul function freely.” So much caring attention was fine for others, “but it cramps and cripples me and I cannot breathe at all…. I am ready to cry with frustration and rage,” all because of the “damnable financial dependence [that] makes me submit to things that I know are wrong for me.”

All this had been Ludwig’s idea, she assured herself, and without her own resources, she had been unable to refuse his request. “Ludwig will not understand how I feel,” she complained in her search for external causes, though he had “let me (recently) spend 10 days in a hotel” where she had gained a pound and a half, worked, but didn’t sleep much “because of downtown noise.” In the end, she knew it was her fight to win, even if she was yet unwilling to recognize all of her enemies. “It’s my problem and I shall work out a way to handle it and then try to get subsidy. What I need is to be primarily alone…. I’m going to do my own way until the curtain is rung down on me definitively.”86

The initial shock of her return to a sanatorium quickly began to fade, and within a few days, Edna, not unexpectedly, began to relinquish her hold upon this absolute refusal to accept the reality of her situation. A week after entering the San she wrote of her attempt to move about her room so that she could at least “do the most peculiarly intimate things,” as she had before. “I never can. I try. I close my eyes and pretend I’m alone in my own bathroom…. It doesn’t work at all. My body knows it’s all a joke and laughs at me. No matter how irritated, how impatient, how near to crying I cover over this mule of a body, it won’t go forward and it won’t go back.”87

Perhaps it was, as she had suspected all along, part of some divine plan through which she was “meant to live and prevail,” as she had written in her very first Desert San journal entry. If so, as she added critically in a letter to her parents on her third day, she would try to be more patient, “attempting to appreciate God’s beauties and minimize his physiological mistakes.” Yet, there were limits to her acceptance of such a fate. “When you are so strong it does seem a bit annoying to be weak. It seems to me the heart is the truth, and not the x-rays, but of course each heart has its disease … too, and that is the most difficult to cure—and no-one but yourself can do it.”88

It was this “heart … disease” that had convinced her to acquiesce to Ludwig’s repeated pleas and enter the sanatorium. “Things in my private life were unsatisfactory so I reasoned that I could rest better away from home than in it, and if I didn’t gain particularly, neither would I lose anymore.” And there, in the sanatorium, her spirit long starved, she began to feel, unexpectedly and with welcoming surprise, the sensuous warmth of the love she had been forced to abandon by illness and social convention. In the breathtaking heat of a desert summer, Edna came alive sensually as she had not since her years in New York with Scott. “I lay out on my bed in my screened in porch waiting for it to begin. It came slowly: it came down on me slowly like a man I wanted. When it began I wasn’t a bit afraid. I was excited…. I lay very still; the mattress sagged beneath my body. I thought: I will never be able to rise again; it is good; there was no pain; I was drugged. It came and tightened slowly like a vice. Slowly, slowly…. It was as though while I had been conquered, while I had sunk, the close sun had put its arms under me and held me up closer to its face.” Nor was this experience a mere fleeting by-product of some passing phase of the tuberculosis. For Edna, it became a continuous reminder of the life she would one day again hold in her hands. “Today on the porch early, I awaited my new love. (Is it because I am starved for my love that this affects me this way?)… Out of the door I watched it coming. I pushed off the whole cover and then the sheet…. I pulled up my nightgown. It wasn’t long in coming. It was more dizzying than the day before even; as I sank I heard myself laughing in exultance.”89

Years later, long after Ludwig’s death, Edna would recall how, upon their arrival in Tucson, “I was still very tubercular … but in order to explain to Ludwig … my meaning of ‘love’ I typed away at a Book until I was dragged off by LL to a Sanitarium.” By then, Ludwig had read her completed novel and had declared it “a work of genius,” though “it seeks my Doom.” He would continue to be enormously supportive from that point on—forcing her to seek medical care, moving into the San’s guest quarters to help all that he could, searching for a publisher for Edna’s book. But in his mind, if not in his heart, he must have sensed that their marriage was ending, though he would attempt to deny this painful truth for as long as his unfounded hopes could allow. “From then on … he looked for another woman,” Edna surmised in her recollection of the months that followed.90 Just how soon after her hospitalization his search began is uncertain, but within the year their diverging needs would carry them along separate paths.

Previous Chapter

37. Painfully Awake

Additional Information

ISBN
9780814345030
Related ISBN
9780814345047
MARC Record
OCLC
1056689244
Pages
238-260
Launched on MUSE
2018-10-14
Open Access
Yes
Creative Commons
CC-BY-NC
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