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2 July 2021
Recently someone decided that Dorothy Canfield Fisher had links with the eugenics movement. In all our research into her life and work we have never discovered anything even faintly reprehensible about her. She was an absolute ideal and of course one day, when the single critical voice has vanished, she will be finally seen as one of America's very greatest writers, far far more important (in our view) than eg. her contemporary Willa Cather. But then she is not a modernist and this condemns her. It's enough to know that Eleanor Roosevelt, another saintly person who could probably be discredited if one tried hard enough, considered her one of the ten most influential women in America. This is what she wrote in November 1958 when Dorothy Canfield Fisher died: 'I had never known Mrs. Fisher intimately, but I read her books with constant interest and pleasure. There is one volume in particular which I often read aloud to many groups of young people because of the wonderful lessons it teaches. It illustrates so well how blind we can be in our relationships with one another. Mrs. Fisher was a woman of great spiritual perception, and for many years it has given me comfort if I found myself on the same side of a controversial question with her. We might discover ourselves to be unpopular at the moment, but in the end our position would probably prove to be the best one, I felt, if she believed in it. She had been ill for a number of years and had retired to a point where even her close friends had not always been able to see her. And if I, who knew her so slightly, feel such a sense of personal loss, I realise how sad those who had the privilege of knowing her so well must feel.'
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