John Samuel Tieman: Mary Borden’s The Forbidden Zone, a near-forgotten masterpiece

Why had I never heard of this writer? A prose and a prosody as muscular and incisive as any of the High Modern icons.

Vox Populi

Recently, PBS aired a documentary marking the hundredth anniversary of the end of World War I. Almost in passing, a memoir by Mary Borden who founded a hospital and served as a nurse, was quoted:

There are no men here, so why should I be a woman? There are heads and knees and mangled testicles. There are chests with holes as big as your fist, and pulpy thighs, shapeless; and stumps where legs once were fastened. There are eyes—eyes of sick dogs, sick cats, blind eyes, eyes of delirium; and mouths that cannot articulate; and parts of faces—the nose gone, or the jaw. There are these things, but no men; so how could I be a woman here and not die of it? Sometimes, suddenly, all in an instant, a man looks up at me from the shambles, a man’s eyes signal or a voice calls “Sister! Sister!” Sometimes suddenly a…

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