“Jane Addams” on Diane Rehm Show


Rosh HaShannah 2010: While I was in Temple today, my friend Louise W. Knight (aka Lucy) was in Washington, DC for an interview on The Diane Rehm Show.  Diane spent almost an hour speaking with Lucy & early on, she had Lucy read my favorite quote (one I already posted earlier this week on Facebook).  Posted below is the quote embedded in their surrounding conversation.  Click HERE to listen to the entire interview.

To Diane & Lucy both:

You Go, Girls J

REHM: You talk about the fact that she [Jane Addams] wasn’t this saint. She had her own ambition, which you write about in the book. Why don’t you read for us from that portion?

KNIGHT: Okay. Yes. This was one of the things that as I worked on Addams, both in Citizen and now in this book, Jane Addams: Spirit in Action, that I needed — I knew I needed to deal with because women of ambition are often — have been treated as what – well, strange or arrogant or, you know, morally disreputable. And yet I’ve yet to see a man of ambition treated that way, so this seemed a disconnect to me and I wanted to see how to treat Addams in a way that was completely respectful of her ambition and not dismissive of it as morally flawed, for example. And that was one of the very fun things about writing the book, actually. So what I’m about to read here is the beginning of chapter four…

“To be sure, her ambition, her burning desire

to make a difference, to contribute her talents

to the world and to attain public honor

had flourished, but as she entered her 40s,

it was stretching its wings and preparing to soar.”

REHM: You know, it is fascinating, Louise Knight, as you read from your biography of Jane Addams to separate that notion of ambition from fame. It wasn’t fame she was seeking. She wanted the opportunity to be able to do more and more for a population she saw as underserved.

KNIGHT: Exactly. And that’s exactly what previous treatments of her often don’t distinguish between, so they always speak of her hunger for fame, you know, and I’m thinking to myself, I think it was a little more complicated than that.

REHM: Yeah, exactly.

KNIGHT: And I also have been — since starting to work on her many years ago, I’ve listened always closely when I hear people interviewed about what makes them, you know, go forward in life and try harder to do more and I’ve listened to what they say and that’s what they say.

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