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 Way is 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


Chekhovs Way
Ways to Love
Uncommon Women and Their Ways
Lady Blessington
Madame Blavatsky
The Duchess of Marlborough
The Way with Words
And Yet
Looking Back
Ways of Travel
The Laughter Must Be Kept
End of Story

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About the author (1996)

Helen Bevington's many books include The World and the Bo Tree and The Journey Is Everything, both published by Duke University Press.

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