Leigh Eric Schmidt


On his book Heaven’s Bride: The Unprintable Life of Ida C. Craddock, American Mystic, Scholar, Sexologist, Martyr, and Madwoman

Cover Interview of January 16, 2011

Editor’s note

Originally, this interview ran on the Rorotoko cover page under the headline

“Was the erotic redeemable, a spiritual yearning as much an animal appetite?”

We highlighted two quotes.

On the first page:

“Craddock’s unmooring from her own Protestant upbringing provides a parable of a larger cultural transformation:  the disruption of evangelical Christianity’s power to define the nation’s sexual taboos, artistic limits, and sacred canon.”

On the second:

“A skilled shape-shifter, Craddock always remained hard to pin down as a specimen, but that elusiveness seemed only to intensify the desire to categorize her.  Was she merely one more case history who could be pigeonholed by the new psychological and neurological sciences—an erotomaniac, nymphomaniac, or hysteric, a victim of an insane delusion of one diagnostic type or another?  Or, was she a latter-day visionary, a weirdly American Teresa of Avila, ‘the madwoman,’ as Helene Cixous put it, ‘who knew more than all the men’?”