The Third and Only Way: Reflections on Staying Alive

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Duke University Press, 1996 - Biography & Autobiography - 209 pages
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In this autobiographical volume, the remarkable Helen Bevington looks for answers to the question of how to live or, more specifically, how to confront growing older. A familiar face on the literary landscape since the mid-1940s, Bevington contemplates the course of her own life in view of the suicide of her father, the final years her mother spent in unwilling solitude, and the tragic suicide of her son following a crippling automobile accident from which he could never recover. How is one to face the inevitability of death? What is the third alternative? How to persevere in life?
The unique Bevington way of autobiography recreates lessons and insights of other lives, historical figures, and compelling incidents, and combines them in a narrative that follows the emotional currents of her life. Evoking a wide range of historical and literary figures, including Chekhov, Marcus Aurelius, Flannery O’Connor, Simone de Beauvoir, Thoreau, Beatrix Potter, Sappho, Yeats, Alexander the Great, Montaigne, Saint Cecilia, Virginia Woolf, Liv Ullmann, and many others, Bevington finds in these lives a path that has guided her search away from solitude. Through her reflections on the ten years that followed her son’s death, we become aware of how far she has traveled, how the search has brightened, how she has eloquently evolved into old age. In the end she is sitting, like the Buddha, under her own fig tree, waiting not for death but for further illumination.
An original contemplation of the universal dilemmas and tragedies of existence,The Third and Only Wayis at once warm, funny, and inspiring—full of learning and wisdom.
  

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The third and only way: reflections on staying alive

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In this autobiographical volume, Bevington (The World and the Bo Tree, Duke Univ., 1991) seeks a third way to deal with old age and death in place of the solitude her mother accepted and the despair ... Read full review

Contents

PARTI The Third Way i
18
The Way with Words
75
And Yet
124
Looking Back
138
Ways of Travel
176
The Laughter Must Be Kept
203
And Things Are As I Think They Are
209
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About the author (1996)

Helen Bevington’s many books includeThe World and the Bo TreeandThe Journey Is Everything, both published by Duke University Press.

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