Taking My Life

By Jane Rule and Linda Morra

Discovered in her papers in 2008, Jane Rule’s autobiography is a rich and culturally significant document that follows the first twenty-one years of her life: the complexities of her relationships with family, friends, and early lovers, and how her sensibilities were fashioned by mentors or impeded by the socio-cultural practices and educational ­politics of the day.

In writing about her ­formative years, Rule is indeed “taking” the measure of her life, assessing its contours of pleasure and pain, accounting for how it evolved as it did. Yet not ­allowing the manuscript to be published in her lifetime was an act of ­discretion: she was considering those who might have been affected by being represented in her work not as confidently ­emancipated as she had always been. She must also have appreciated the ambiguity of the title she chose, with all its implications of suicide: at the end of her writing life, she was submitting herself to critical scrutiny, ­allowing herself to be vulnerable as a person to the critique of her readers.

Deeply moving and elegantly witty, Taking My Life probes the larger philosophical questions that were to preoccupy Rule throughout her literary career and showcases the origins and contexts that gave shape to her rich intellectual life. It will especially ­appeal to avid followers of her work, delighted to discover another of her books that has, until now, remained unpublished.

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