Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) is best known as an American modernist and pioneering artist of the early twentieth century. But he was also a prolific writer who published dozens of essays and reviews and several volumes of poetry and prose. The autobiographical account of his life is the most revealing document he left about his personal life and relationships—both for its disclosures and omissions—but has never been published before. Somehow a Past is compelling both as historical document and as personal narrative. Hartley knew nearly every figure of the international avant-garde in his day and unfolds his life largely through a chain of personal encounters. His traffic with such major literary and artistic figures as Alfred Stieglitz, Vasili Kandinski, Gertrude Stein, Mabel Dodge, Eugene O'Neill, Robert McAlmon, and Charles Demuth is recorded, as are his travels both domestic and foreign.
"Hartley's diffident and elusive title does not convey the energy,charm and sheer pleasure of this artist's account of his life andtravels. . . . Marsden Hartley is an extraordinary witness to hisage. The book joins a rich body of 'witness' literature left us byHartley's friends and conspirators in the 'modern movement' likeGertrude Stein, Robert McAlmon and Kay Boyle, Mabel Dodge and ErnestHemingway. One of the few painters turned writer, Hartley has given usan intensely visual record of a time he called a 'cross 'tween acircus and a sacred affair,' when everything was possible, and theartist's goal was simply to remake the world."
—Julie Martin, The New York Times Book Review