Composing a Life

by Mary Catherine Bateson

Paperback, 2001




Grove Press (2001), Edition: 1R, 256 pages


Using the lives of five women as her framework, Bateson delves into the creative potential of the complex lives that we live today, where ambitions are contantly refocused on new goals and possibilities. We meet Johnnetta Cole, anthropologist and college president; Joan Erikson, dancer, writer, and jewelry designer; Alice d'Entremont, electrical engineer and entrepreneur; Ellen Bassuk, psychiatrist and researcher on homelessness; writer and professor Mary Catherine Bateson.


½ (40 ratings; 3.8)

Media reviews

The Mission List
From When I was 22, I worked at, and co-founder Nancy Evans suggested I read a book called Composing a Life, written by Margaret Mead’s daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson. I just reread Bateson’s book, and her point about the trajectory of women’s lives is
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powerful today. Bateson emphasized that women’s lives–marked by caretaking– so often veer from the paths we may intend them to take. This is a wonderful thing, but we’re not taught to think of it that way. Bateson writes of the huge creative potential of a life that twists and turns, and is not “pointed towards a single ambition.” These are not lives without commitment, “but rather lives in which commitment is continually refocused and redefined.”
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Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

8 inches


0802138047 / 9780802138040
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