American Studies •  Biography •  New Mexico •  Southwest and Women

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The Suppressed Memoirs of Mabel Dodge Luhan: Sex, Syphilis, and Psychoanalysis in the Making of Modern American Culture

Edited by Lois Palken Rudnick

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.


Lois Palken Rudnick is professor emerita of American studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Rudnick lives in Santa Fe.


“In this illuminating volume, comprising previously unpublished portions of Mabel Dodge Luhan’s memoirs, Rudnick analyzes the influential art patron’s confessions and places them in an enlivening historical context. . . . Populated by such artistic, cultural, and literary luminaries as Picasso, O’Keeffe, and Gertrude Stein, Luhan’s diaries are thoroughly engaging in their own right. But combined with Rudnick’s enlightening analysis, they become an indispensable looking glass into life during a tumultuous transitional period.”


Publishers Weekly

“Whether you approach The Suppressed Memoirs of Mabel Dodge Luhan with an interest in early twentieth-century culture and art, New Mexico history, gender politics, or even disease, it’s a compelling read.”



“Rudnick deserves thanks for making these pieces public. Highly recommended.”



“Under the deft editorial and analytical gaze of Professor Rudnick, The Suppressed Memoirs reveals a woman who was physically, mentally, and emotionally tortured by her relations with men—lovers and analysts alike. . . . Now we can see more than ever how this talented and vivid woman was caught between Victorian sensibilities and emerging modern attitudes about sex, gender, and women. From that vantage we can gain a fair appreciation of the distance we have come.”


New Mexico Historical Review

6 x 9 in. 256 pages 12 halftones