What I love about her the most is she is a woman who lived on her terms, not anyone else’s. She followed her heart, she studied a lot and she was absolutely fearless. Just the other day I was sticking up for my friend, Emily Dickinson, saying basically the same thing. “She just lived on her own terms. So she liked staying at home. Big deal! There are times when I don’t want to be bothered with the fluff and funk of everyday life, either.”
Isabelle Eberhardt’s short life was anything but everyday.
What else could describe a French female journalist who masqueraded as a man, was the first European to be admitted as a member of a Sufi brotherhood who died during a flash flood because her clay home basically fell to the ground upon her?
She was born in Geneva, a child conceived outside of marriage. This not only lead to a life of emotional instability, but also financial instability because she could not gain access to her inheritance. She was a very smart woman, multilingual, and enjoyed spiritual study with her father. They poured over the Koran together and had lively discussion about what they read.
Meanwhile, she was reporting back to France via daily newspapers and journals and wrote several books – very near to her life works of fiction – and she even survived an assassination attempt.
Isabelle and the people she traveled with were vagabonds above all whose quest was not so familiar as ours: achievement financially or in business, the arts or perhaps in academia. Her characters in her books and Eberhardt herself chose to live an unstructured life while seeking enlightenment. They experienced poverty and spent time in the “darkest” places.
She wrote of herself, “As a nomad who has no country besides Islam and neither family nor close friends, I shall went my way through life until it is time for everlasting sleep inside the grave.
It is a shame she died so young. I can only imagine who the legendary Isabelle Eberhardt may have become.
Tomorrow’s Literary Granny: Judith Sargeant Murray
This post is a part of my series Our Literary Grannies from A t0 Z which was inspired by the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Find out more about the Challenge by clicking here.
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