Edit ModuleShow Tags

Is the World Big Enough for Mary Duncan?


Published:

(page 1 of 2)

MARY DUNCAN has nothing to declare.

That was the joke others told about the globe-trotting professor from San Diego State University who regularly bluffed her way through customs at Moscow's airport. Her suitcases were filled with books to stock her English-language bookstore, Shakespeare & Company, in the Russian city.
But in a life that plays out on a stage stretching from La Jolla to Moscow, and centered on Paris, Duncan indeed has plenty to declare. Much of it is revealed in a juicy, 167-page autobiography, Henry Miller Is Under My Bed: People and Places on the Way to Paris (Starhaven Press, 2008).
It's a tale of pushing the boundaries, a remarkable adventure of a woman overcoming a difficult childhood in National City to become a respected university department chair whose specialty, recreation administration, took her on an unlikely course to becoming an expert on terrorism long before al Qaeda became widely known. For years, Duncan was the go-to resource for San Diego journalists working on stories about international terrorism and "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland.

With San Diego as the formative base, she has pursued a personal journey to understand the world, a quest notable for its exploration of eroticism and feminism as well as its fascination with avant-garde writers including the late Henry Miller, whose expatriate life in Paris inspired Duncan. His long-suppressed novel Tropic of Cancer led to a 1964 Supreme Court decision finding the book, challenged under pornography statutes, to be a work of literature. Duncan owns an important collection of Miller memorabilia, including recordings of interviews with the author.

"She makes her dreams come true," says San Diego friend Jacque Lynn Foltyn. "Mary always finds a way to do what she wants."
Obstacles become challenges, including walking through a no man's land in divided Belfast.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

2018-2019 San Diego Arts Preview

54 plays, concerts, ballets, and exhibits you need to see this upcoming season, and more

What San Diego Women Want

53 working women share their compelling stories on navigating pay equity, the baby penalty, #MeToo, and more

Meet the Globetrotters and Expats Shaping San Diego

We asked 20 travel-savvy locals to give us a much-needed outside perspective on the city and, well, on us
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Best of San Diego Party 2018
  2. Good Night, Cafe Chloe
    San Diego’s beloved French bistro is closing due to California’s unfair labor laws
  3. The Best of San Diego 2018
    We crown 103 winners in food, shopping, fitness, kids’ activities, and more
  4. Javier Plascencia Eyes Barrio Logan
    The award-winning chef is all over Mexico, but looks to make a San Diego comeback
  5. Stop Killing Chloes
    How California is very knowingly killing the mom and pop restaurant
  6. First Look: El Jardin
    Native chef Claudette Wilkins goes from Bracero to Top Chef and, finally, to her own dream
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Vote Now for Your Orangetheory Winner!

Winners will be announced at our Sweat event on May 12

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

AquaVie: 10 Reasons It’s Downtown’s Best Kept Secret

The best workout and spa getaway around? It’s actually right underneath your nose.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags