Synopses & Reviews
The nineteenth-century eccentric Ida C. Craddock was by turns a secular freethinker, a religious visionary, a civil-liberties advocate, and a resolute defender of belly-dancing. Arrested and tried repeatedly on obscenity charges, she was deemed a danger to public morality for her candor about sexuality. By the end of her life Craddock, the nemesis of the notorious vice crusader Anthony Comstock, had become a favorite of free-speech defenders and womens rights activists. She soon became as well the case-history darling of one of Americas earliest and most determined Freudians.
In Heavens Bride, prize-winning historian Leigh Eric Schmidt offers a rich biography of this forgotten mystic, who occupied the seemingly incongruous roles of yoga priestess, suppressed sexologist, and suspected madwoman. In Schmidts evocative telling, Craddocks story reveals the beginning of the end of Christian America, a harbinger of spiritual variety and sexual revolution.
"Schmidt (Restless Souls), a Harvard University specialist in American religious history, illuminates the darkened life of Ida Craddock by aiming a spotlight at each subtitled role. Craddock (b. 1857) was a clairaudient of a husband who appeared to her only in spirit; a self-taught scholar (Schmidt calls her 'a dedicated egghead'); an unmarried sexologist who specialized in studying phallic worship and in reforming marriage; a martyr hounded to suicide in 1902; and a maniac, at least according to her embarrassed mother. In telling Craddock's story, Schmidt ably crisscrosses time lines, beginning with Craddock's defense of belly dancing as foreplay at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago and ending with a rundown of her loves. His erudite-lite style turns a bit purple only in the last paragraph ('the paired wings of eros and Divine love'). Mostly, he lets sources speak for themselves--not easy with Craddock herself, given how much of her writing was destroyed by her mother and censorious nemesis Anthony Comstock. When the words are Schmidt's, he writes with sobriety, reaching for double entendres only occasionally. (Dec. 7)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
A prize-winning scholar recounts the life of Ida C. Craddock, American visionary, free-thinking secularist, sex reformer, brainy folklorist, and eclectic spiritualist
About the Author
Leigh Eric Schmidt is Charles Warren Professor of American Religious History at Harvard University, and the author of numerous books, including Restless Souls and Consumer Rites. He lives in Belmont, Massachusetts.