Monday, June 30, 2014

The Useful Life: A Crown to the Simple Life

I oftentimes cannot believe my luck-- our luck-- with I've been writing and researching for my writing long enough to well remember when finding books was a question of going to the library or, in some cases, shelling out the money for a copy. Oftentimes, when the library was in another city, this was time-consuming and expensive task. For many things we still need to research in archives, of course. But wow, I have found such a wonder of a trove, saved so much time and money with One small example is this book, The Useful Life: A Crown to the Simple Life, as Taught by Emanuel Swedenborg, with an introduction by John Bigelow.

I'd written about Bigelow (much of it based on my research into his personal papers in the NY Public Library's manuscript Division, his dispatches to Secretary of State Seward, and Margaret Clapp's biography of Bigelow, Forgotten First Citizen) in my novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire.

In a slice of a few years out of his long, rich and very active life, Bigelow served as US ambassador to France during the US Civil War and the French Intervention in Mexico. He was instrumental in convincing Luis Napoleon to not only refuse to support the Confederacy, but to then withdraw French troops from Mexico. Bigelow also attempted to help the parents of the prince, Agustin de Iturbide y Green, reclaim their child from Maximilian von Habsburg.

Once my novel was published, that was the end of researching Bigelow, so I thought. As I was writing Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual, apropos of my translation of that book, imagine my surprise to find that among the American Swdenborgians-- followers of the Swedeish scientist and mystic whose ideas were forerunners to Spiritualism-- was Bigelow. And finding his books about that? A quick search in turned up this gem.

P.S. Another great tool for researchers is For any given book, this shows which libraries have it.

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