Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Sunday, July 06, 2003  

Over the past week or so there have been many tributes and obituaries to the late actress Katharine Hepburn. They all speak of her great talents as an actress, her relationship with Spencer Tracy, her belief in birth control and conscious decision not have children. However, none that I have read touched on one major fact: that Hepburn was an atheist.

In an interview with Ladies' Home Journal in 1991, Hepburn said, "I'm an atheist, and that's it. I believe there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for people."

And in another interview from in 1990 she said, "I don't fear the next world, or anything. I don't fear hell, and I don't look forward to heaven."

But we haven't heard of any of this in the news items and tributes to Hepburn, which puts me in mind of something Vladimir Nabokov wrote, in 1956, in "On a Book Entitled Lolita".

Apart from the theme of his famed novel, wrote Nabokov, there are two themes "which are utterly taboo as far as most American publshers are concerned.... [A] Negro-White marriage which is a complete and glorious success resulting in lots of children and grandchildren; and the total atheist who lives a happy and useful life, and dies in his sleep at the age of 106."

Obviously things haven't changed much in America in the nearly 50 years since those words were written, on all counts.

posted by Jonathan | 11:35 PM 0 comments


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