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in the tropical island of Puerto Rico. As we read this True Story thru the pages of her diaries we can join them in the immediacy of each these experiences. Harriet E. Wagner is long gone, and I think there is no more fitting tribute than to publish her diaries written in the flush of youth and on the edge of history. If someone asks me, “It’s there a plot in this work?” I will have to respond that this is a recount of a very romantic and ahead of her times woman, about her life and the events that took place in the tropics, in the island of Puerto Rico during the 1920’s to 1940’s. And that in order to explain and understand it, there is no other way except thru the stories within the story found in her diaries ceaselessly intertwined with the narrative. The characters are real, not dreamed or imagined, and the interconnectedness and intentions, incidents, episodes, and actions taken by the characters revolve in dense and seemingly chaotic texts, as dreams. Texts that represent themselves projecting as inhabited by energies, which ultimately evokes images of desires, which corresponds to the arousals, expectations, suspense, reversals,
The diaries of Harriet E. Wagner where found in 1981, inside a false bottom in an old trunk lying forgotten in an enclosed garage in her house, just like many others diaries found in dusty attics and between walls. Along with the diaries were also most treasured possessions, letters, photographs, personal notes and other remembrances of her life. It is usually considered reading a diary an invasion of privacy, once the diarist is gone; such reading offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of someone we have never met. Harriet diaries reveal – not an old person looking back, in a memoir, but a young one looking at the present, and with an entire life ahead. The places she went, the people she met, the historical events that she witness, the scandals around her life that became
revaluations, disappointments, embarrassments, fulfillments, and even the incoherence’s animated by the reader itself. Repetition is clearly a major operative principle of the story, shaping energy, giving a perspective form, a binding agent for the creation of cohesion allowing the reader by logic set in motion the plot, and find out whose acts can or not be premeditated, based on a conception of the self which structures and gives meaning to the story itself.
embarking she took the opportunity to ask various newspapers to serve as a freelance correspondent among them the Herald Tribune. As the date for her departure came close she writes, “Happiness and yet I cannot say I’m really sad. Life adds so little and so much! Turned down Porto Rico for the family’s sake, Glen, and because of the grade work and past salary. Want to laugh and cry. Should be happy after this vacation. Instead I smile cynically and strive with Orpheus’s hands to take hold Eurydice (last year’s hopeful philosophy). What the winter bring? Shall put aside diary writing for real writing of newspaper and magazine stories? One can’t be utterly conquered at twenty four!” Finally on September 24 or 25 1926 as she jot its down says, “Porto Rico. How can I put it into words these first days? Never in my life have I been such a victim of anything. When people spoke of the sensuousness of the tropics I had no idea what they meant. Now I know. I am so glad, glad, and glad now for my German stability. For I need a bracing something to keep me from the things I always said I’d never do…”
Harriet’s parents house as it looks today.
In early summer of 1926, at the end of school year in Glasgow, Montana, while at home on vacation she writes in her diary, “I have my Glasgow contract but crave excitement and sex I suppose it is. So Gen and I wrote for Porto Rico tho I doubt if we’ll go. I have my family and will no doubt perish of loneliness tho I need Life, goodness knows.” On August 27, 1926 she writes, “Elected to Porto Rico today grammar grade (upper English) at only $1,125.” Seriously thinking on
She was selected with a group of people to come to Puerto Rico to teach on grade school. During those times throughout the island the school system was going thru various changes as the appointees by the president of the United States to the Department of Education were making their efforts to maintain the English language as the primary language of teaching. In the capital San Juan the Central High School was the school for the daughters and sons of the prominent families of the island. She writes; "I am in a turmoil over Porto Rico. Hate to leave my dear Mommy, but crave adventure. Sometimes I hate Youth. It leads one to such foolish things and yet so marvelous. One can think anything, be anything, can do anything. I have come to this island to teach school but I have become the most interested pupil".
to write and collect poetry and had a passion for reading, inherited from her father who owned the local newspaper and was the president of the Board of Education and also of the local bank in the 1920's. During her last year in college she posted a request to be accepted for Porto Rico to teach English. Accepted in 1926 for the island of her dreams, she embarked for the adventure of her life. She could have chosen to go anywhere like New York, California, London or Paris to name a few. But because she craved adventure she instead chooses to take a teaching job in Puerto Rico, to a lifestyle that was totally different from her own. While on the island, she pursued her literary career, which was always her life long dream by writing down every single experience, thoughts or impressions that surrounded her at the time. She wrote about the life of the people as well as of her own. Harriet also wrote about her spirituality, the love for Bill and about her beautiful experience living in the gorgeous landscape of her tropical island of Puerto Rico. The book also includes the school scandal that she found herself in. She had been misinterpreted by some of her students who read some of her unpublished manuscript. This unauthorized reading and the
The Book This book is about a young American woman of German descent born in 1901 in Litchfield, a small village in the Meeker County Minnesota. At the age of 16 began
publishing of excerpts in the local newspaper portrayed her as being prejudiced against the people of Puerto Rico.
But on March 26, of 1929, a local newspaper EL IMPARCIAL reads; "The students of the Superior School of San Juan are indignant towards a state-side professor. They read the original copy of a manuscript which was to be submitted by one teacher, Miss Harriet Wagner, for publication and believed that the writings presents an immoral image of Puerto Rico.” Why were the students so upset? This was not the first time that a North American residing in the island had offended the sensibilities of the Puerto Rican people. Before the uproar surrounding Harriet's manuscript, others had published articles in newspapers and magazines in and outside of the island expressing negative or unpopular opinions, which did not elicit such public outrage.
all thru ought the island she professed to love? This scandal brought out different opinions of the intellectuals of the time as well of the upper and middle class including the Americans who lived on the island. In addition this act contributed to the opposition of the times by local activists regarding the American teachers in Puerto Rico and the subject of teaching English as the main language at schools. The sequence of events and their emotional moments are found thru the writings on her diaries. She writes, “I just got a special delivery letter telling me to get out of face libel. Should I laugh or be frantic? I'm doing both. Appreciation? But how can we expect morons to reason. These mongrels! Let us sink the island and drown them all and then we can have the place for itself. This is what happened. I gave half of my book to a Lolin Tormos a serious commercial student up at school to type and she in a patriotic fervor let others read parts of it. The truth these 'negritos' and consequently-judging only half the book and no introduction- they have all rebelled against me and are up in arms."
What did she say about the people and the life in Puerto Rico that became an issue of controversy in
use of her position within the Department to publish her books and selling them as textbooks to the same Department was disintegrated among the paperwork. All of this resulted in her loosing the position as a teacher at the Central High School in Santurce, while getting a notorious recognition thru out the island among the thinkers and doers on both sides of the political and ideological coin and it only encouraged her to become an entrepreneur and begin a tutoring of Spanish to Americans and English to local business man form her own beach front house in. The book series of “LOVE & LUST The Harriet Wagner’s Diaries” contains many chapters describing her turbulent love affair with a twenty years old her senior, a prominent married college professor at the University of Puerto Rico during the time of the American Administration of this institution.
She was devastated by this experience, and her diaries explain all the emotions of the scandal, causing a turning point in her life as a writer, a teacher and as a woman. The same week of the school scandal the same newspaper writes about another American woman writer that was involve in a scandal with the Department of Education. Elizabeth Kneipple Van Deusen worked the Department and at the same time published a few textbooks for the Department of Education where she worked entering into a conflict of interests. Tales of Borinquen one of her books, was more a detailed of the picturesque island of Puerto Rico as so many others books published during the first decade of the American control of the school system. She was also under investigation by the Department of Education on the same week of Harriet’s school scandal, but for been the wife of the Secretary of the Governor (appointee of the President of the U.S.A.) her case on the conflict of interest regarding the
William F. O’Reilly (Bill)
His name was William F. (Bill) O’Reilly who was also a news correspondent for the United Press International and wrote for the Puerto Rico Progress, The Nation and other periodicals and magazines in U.S.A and in Puerto Rico. Bill rubbed shoulders a close friend of local political and social figures such as, Bolivar Pagan, Jose Padin, Luis Munoz Marin, and Juan B. Huyke. In an article written by Combas Guerra in ‘El Mundo’ newspaper about Bill O’Reilly it mentions that he graduated from Harvard University and came to Puerto Rico in 1908 and began his teaching career in the town of Cabo Rojo. Around 1913 he was in San Juan where he stayed becoming a wellknown figure in the capital. He wrote about the story of this part of his life in an article in the ‘Puerto Rico Progress’. Because of his outgoing personality and presence he made many friends in important political and social positions obtaining an appointed post created for him at the University of Puerto Rico as Dean of English Literature. Thru Harriet diaries we can see the life that Bill was living at home with a wife whose jealousy was overwhelm. To maintain his love affair with Harriet he went also thru many changes and moments of desperation and disassociation with
reality. Having a family and finding someone who gives him much more than what he can get from his wife, regarding intellectual infusion at that stage of his life was wonderful and painful at the same time.
Through her diaries she describes vividly the events that lead to the moment when she met Bill, taking it just as a simple flirtation, not knowing that her lover’s wife would find out about their affair. Reactions and actions from Georgia, Bill’s wife, would keep them apart going from the reasonable to the extreme. But in the mean time, while Harriet waited for him, she had other lovers and affairs, just as it happened with Bill and Georgia. Discretion and clandestine meetings kept the relationship quiet but not for long. From the beginning her descriptions of the affair up to the moments when Georgia, enraged with jealousy, attempts against Harriet’s life are so vividly described that it will present a movie like projection in the readers mind. Her diaries are a true-life story. This book is her diary as she wrote each volume describing her life and times on the island of Puerto Rico during the American government administration. In addition to keeping a diary, Harriet Wagner was also a prolific writer in her day. She published articles and poetry in
well-known newspapers and magazines like The Herald Tribune, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Travel and The American Woman Poets magazine to name a few. Writing poetry is all about inspiration and her combining of poetry and narrative will draw the reader into Miss Wagner’s world with the notion that they are actually experiencing and feeling what she went through. The diaries provide insights into the life of the Americans in Puerto Rico in the late 20's and 30's as seen through her eyes. Harriet shares her experiences with the local people, from the street vendor to the Chief of Police, a very famous architect, a Naval Commander, from federal agents to famous poets. She projects her philosophical point of view of life and how she took all the advantage possible to live her life and enjoy all kinds of experiences and give love to those who needed it. The book expresses all without holding anything, including the fact that she knew one day someone would find her diaries and publish them for the world to know about, including her great love for Bill and Puerto Rico, like she wanted to do. And with that I, Carlos A. Laster Jr, selected by chance to be the one to discover her works, present to you The Diaries of Harriet E. Wagner.
Description of Original Diary: Harriet began to write her diary on November 16, 1921 when she turned 21 years old. The first diary A Line A Day Ward’s, a condensed, comparative diary for five years measures 3” by 6.5” As an introduction the diary had a small poem written by Eloise Wood that said, “Within these pages every night, Brief memories of the day I write; A little word, a single line, Is jotted in this book of mine – Not mighty deeds, just common things. The tasks and pleasures each day brings. And yet I hope that when I look, over the pages of this book, Twill be (and, if so, I’m content), The record of five years well spent.” The first three years of the five years diary contains very short notes of the things she did during her last years at the university, the people she met and became friends with and the latter part of the diary tells her experience as a high school teacher in Glasgow, Montana. During that time she writes about those whom she had a closer relationship including one of her students with whom she became very close to. Her handwriting is clear and her grammar and spelling is correct, as she uses what is today consider archaic words. The diaries totaling 13 volumes will be divided into 3 periods and will be published just as she wrote them including the names of the
people whom she had personal or non-personal contact with during her life. There will be a section that will provide some biographical information on some of those people she mentions on her diaries, and a historical cross references to events that took place in the island which involves her directly or indirectly. Items in italics are words in Spanish that appear in her diaries. Because the author usually wrote entries in one long passage, paragraph breaks have been added to render the text more readable. Her own photographs will accompany some of the text; others are from the public archives and the personal collection of the C. A. Laster Jr.
published in the “Sunday Magazine” of August 2, 1981, one of the stories found in Harriet’s manuscripts titled ‘The Street Vendors’ one of the subjects she was fascinated about.
The Market The times when Harriet was in Puerto Rico, the island was governed directly by a governor appointed by the President of the United States. The English language was a main concern of the government especially the department of education. She came to Puerto Rico to teach English. The school scandal regarding her unpublished manuscripts gave her notoriety. Three years after her death, when the diaries were found, the English speaking audience newspaper from the capital of Puerto Rico, The San Juan Star,
Also makes mentions of the school scandal. Since then, the people of Puerto Rico have been waiting anxiously for the reading of her dairies. We estimate that most of the English speaking Puerto Ricans as well as the Americans residing in Puerto Rico will be a large section of our readers. There is also a great number of Puerto Ricans residing in the United States who are also a potential market. The state of Minnesota is for sure a great market who will read about one of their own who was a prolific writer, and everyone men or women who once has fall in love with the impossible lover but keeps trying in spite of all odds.
Competition How can you compare one diary against other when they are both so personal and unique? For several sample and information on critical analysis of diaries you can research the following: A Treasury of the World’s Great Diaries by Philip Dunaway Doubleday, 1957. A Book of One’s Own: People and Their Diaries by Thomas Mallon, Tichnor & Fields 1984 and American Diary Literature, 1620-1779 by Steven E. Kagle, Twayne 1979. After all that reading the short conclusion is that “diaries that are kept for several years helps the writer and the reader to realize how his attitudes may have change with the circumstances around and how his mind has grown” and that “a diary can become a novel” and that “a novel is not the least confined and most experimental form of literature and helps people to endure and to enjoy life.” Yes, there have been famous diaries that became great novels. For a source on published diaries we have: American Diaries: an Annotated Bibliography of Published American Diaries and Journals by Laura Arksay / Gale Research, 1983 – 1987, Woman’s Diaries, Journals and Letters: An annotated Bibliography by Cheryl Cline / Garland 1989, The Published
Diaries and Letters of American Woman: an Annotated Bibliography by Joyce D. Goodfriend / G. K. Hall 1987, and other bibliographies. But is important to notice that there is not one American woman in this bibliographies who kept a diary for 20 years, and wrote it outside of the mainland and who’s life was full of excitement, adventure, political and sex scandals, jealousy, love, lust and tragedy, like is found in the ‘Diaries of Harriet E. Wagner’. Even in the island of Puerto Rico among the ‘continentals’ writers who lived in the island there is very little information published based on the life of American residents in Puerto Rico from the period of 1926 to 1942. About the novels like stories inspired on diaries published in the last 10 years in Puerto Rico and the United States we can mention a few which situations in a similar way written by authors who did not actually lived within the period of the books they wrote, but are just mare accounts of other peoples stories and events. Blue Star: The Story of Corabelle Fellows, Teacher at Dakota Missions, 1884 –1888 by Kunigunde Duncan / Borealis Book 1990. A nineteen years old woman well educated and gently bred, who in 1881 overcame her parent’s objections and left her upper class home in Washington D. C. to
become a church sponsored teacher among the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians in Dakota Territory. Claudia Lea Phelps: A Young Woman’s Diary a young socialite with love of parties and dancing kept a brief diary in the latter part of 1912. Rose Red and The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer by Joyce Reardon. The Diaries of Jane Somers by Michael Joseph 1984. Bridget Jone’s Diary by Helen Fielding / Penguin 2001. Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas by James Paterson / Little/ Brown 2001. Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicholas Kraus / St. Martin’s Press 2002. School Teacher in Old Alaska: The Story of Hannah Breece by Jane Jacobs / Random House 1997. In Puerto Rico one of the novels is The House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferre that tells the story of the wealthy Mendizabal clan and, through it, the story of Puerto Rico in the 20th century. Isabel Monfort, the Vassar-educated wife of wealthy importer Quintín Mendizabal, begins to write a novel based on their two families. Isabel's husband discovers the manuscript and takes issue with his wife's interpretation of events. As he views it, Isabel "had made up incredible things about his family and left out much of what had really happened." He begins writing notes in the margins, "correcting" her work. In addition to this marital
seesaw, the novel develops a contrast between the Mendizabal’s and their servants, the Avilés family. The Publishers Weekly reviewer said of the book, "Ferré dramatizes the issue of who gets to write history, gracefully incorporating it into a compelling panorama of Puerto Rican experience that is rich in history, drama and memorable characters.” “Love & Lust, Waves of the Tropics The Diaries of Harriet E. Wagner” is far richer in history and real drama provided by ‘continental’ and local characters of clout and power during the years 1926 and 1945 under the American Government Administration in the tropical island of Puerto Rico. The book series will provide a totally new view of the real life among the privileged few who were the shakers and movers of the social and political world within the tropical island of Puerto Rico. Some of the real characters whom not knowing became played a part in this great novel with Puerto Rico as the background during Harriet’s period we will mention; Muna Lee, Anthonin Nechodoma, Colonel Lewis, William F. O’Reilly, Georgia Brown, Henry and Elizabeth Dooley, Charles Lindbergh, Gov. Roosevelt, Luis Munoz Marin, Jose Padin and Bolivar Pagan, The Harding’s among others.
I strongly believe the words by Connie Underhill once the San Juan Star Sunday Magazine who said in August 2, 1981; “Harriet was a pretty girl, and a blithe one. And she never said no to an adventure, for how could you write if you had nothing to write about? Everything she did found its way onto paper. That’s the way it is with people who are going to write a novel. Maybe the great American novel? The great Puerto Rican novel?”
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