a summary and personal comments on the biography of a virginal mind

This is part of a series of posts about Mrs. Eddy. The biography of a virginal mind by Francis Dakin. For all posts on this topic, see the tag the Biography of a Virginal Mind

After my last post, one of the commenters asked if I was going to provide a summary and personal comments. I hadn’t really given that much thought, but I suppose that after covering the book section by section, I should probably do that.

Over all, I enjoyed the Dakin book, the use of obscure – but relevant and insightful – quotes at the beginning of each chapter was a nice touch. At times, Dakin’s organizational structure (or seeming lack there of) was slightly frustrating particularly when he discussed Woodbury and Stetson in parts IV – The Secret Place of the Most High and V – The Twilight of a God — in places the events run parallel but the way Dakin organized it felt like they were happening chronologically.

I would have preferred if Dakin had used more dates, but that does not seem to be his style — as he pointed out in the introduction, the job of the biographer is to weigh the facts and reconcile, recount and omit — not just list facts and dates.

Some sections felt like a repeat of earlier material but with slightly changed circumstances, this is not Dakin’s fault, Ms. Eddy’s life seems to have some fairly constant themes that continue to arise — poor health, paranoia, and the desire to be Someone.

In some places, I felt like Dakin expected the reader to already be aware of certain relationships, events, and individuals that I found I needed/wanted to look up further. Dakin’s insights gave me a starting from which to branch out and research other topics more closely (the Rev. Wiggin, the Shakers, and Milmine to name a few.*)

In my notes, on Part 2, Book to Conjure With, I have section VIII (starting on p. 99) the analysis of Science and Health marked as a “must read” and flagged the chapter as one of my favorites to refer to again for a further post.

Dakin spends a lot of time focusing on Ms. Eddy’s health and mental state through out the book. Given Ms. Eddy’s claims of healing abilities and her claims to have discovered the “lost art of healing,” her on going health issues — and their “cause” of “malicious animal magnetism” — need to be addressed.

I would highly recommend Mrs. Eddy. The biography of a virginal mind to someone who is out of Christian Science, or curious about Ms. Eddy’s past (as not approved by TMC). I would not recommend it the family friends who remain staunchly pro-CS.**

* I have a list of more I want to cover when I get the time. 
** If I thought I could change their minds, I would probably start with Caroline Fraser’s God’s Perfect Child. Fear not, it is on my to read again and review list.


2 thoughts on “a summary and personal comments on the biography of a virginal mind

  1. mkhuggins says:

    Thank you for a very good summary and opinion: I would read the book if I had not read it already. I look forward to GPC, which is a very comprehensive treatment, SO much less boring than Gil!. I tend to favor her opinions over many who have written on this subject. The fact she says that this is the biography to read gives it importance in my mind.

    • kat @ kindism says:

      The GPC project will start in the new year, I’m in the process of starting to read it and take notes now, I plan to cover a section a month starting in January of 2015. Parallel to that I’m going to be reading/covering Parenting Beyond Belief as I hope to slowly move away from exclusively CS topics as I start to think about/discuss where I’m going as I transition out of it.

      I will not be doing an in-depth review of Milime (I read her biography a few years ago and don’t have plans to read it again), but I am more than happy to host a guest-reviewer.

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