Internationally known as a writer, hostess, and patron of the arts of the twentieth century, Mabel Dodge Luhan (1879–1962) is not known for her experiences with venereal disease, unmentioned in her four-volume published memoir. Making the suppressed portions of Luhan’s memoirs available for the first time, well-known biographer and cultural critic Lois Rudnick examines Luhan’s life through the lenses of venereal disease, psychoanalysis, and sexology. She shows us a mover and shaker of the modern world whose struggles with identity, sexuality, and manic depression speak to the lives of many women of her era.
Restricted at the behest of her family until the year 2000, Rudnick’s edition of these remarkable documents represents the culmination of more than thirty-five years of study of Luhan’s life, writings, lovers, friends, and Luhan’s social and cultural milieus in Italy, New York, and New Mexico. They open up new pathways to understanding late Victorian and early modern American and European cultures in the person of a complex woman who led a life filled with immense passion and pain.