Women in the Nineteenth Century by Margaret Fuller

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First published in book form in 1845, Woman in the Nineteenth Century was correctly perceived as the controversial document that it was: receiving acclaim and achieving popular success in some quarters (the first printing sold out within a week), at the same time that it inspired vicious attacks from opponents of the embryonic women’s movement. In this book, whose style is characterized by the trademark textual diversity of the transcendentalists, Fuller articulates values arising from her passionate belief in justice and equality for all humankind, with a particular focus on women. Although her notion of basic rights certainly includes those of an educational, economic, and legal nature, it is intellectual expansion and changes in the prevailing attitudes towards women (by men and women) that Fuller cherishes far above the superficial manifestations of liberation. A classic of feminist thought that helped bring about the Seneca Falls Women’s Convention three years after its publication, Woman in the Nineteenth Century inspired her contemporaries Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to speak of Fuller as possessing “more influence upon the thought of American women than any woman previous to her time.”