Friday, September 2, 2011

Annie Murphy - I Still Live

I Still Live - Biography of a Spiritualist by Annie Murray illustrates the story of Acsha W. Sprague who was born in Vermont in 1827 and became s well-known spiritualist speaker. She began work as a teacher at the age of twelve and taught until she was twenty. She then became very ill and was crippled by a "scrofulous disease of the joints," which was possibly a form of arthritis. As her condition worsened, she became bedridden. At the age of twenty-seven, she had a spiritual awakening in which she was told that angels were around her and needed her to tell others of their message of eternal life. Her health gradually improved and she embarked on a lecture career, carrying out her mission. Sprague was considered a trance lecturer and gave her first public speech at South Reading in July of 1854. She was a reformer on such topics as the position of women and conditions in slums and prisons, and an advocate of temperance and the abolition of slavery. She was considered a religious leader for the Spiritualist movement, which attracted many women because it enabled them to speak in public before audiences of both men and women. Sprague was also a poet. Much of her work still remains unpublished today. Some of her poetry was published in "The Banner of Light," "The World," and "The Green Mountain Sibyl." She died of a severe illness, designated as brain fever, at the age of thirty-four.

Annie Murphy has created a book like no other, infused with sensitivity and transcendence. She weaves Ascha's story into her own (and back again) through hypnotic drawings, and carefully chosen words. The result is both lucid and dreamlike. Books that merge art, history, biography, philosophy and personal journeys so seamlessly are exceptionally rare. I Still Live is 60 pages, oversized, and available from I Still Live gets my highest recommendation.

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