The Life of Margaret Fuller

The Life of Margaret Fuller

The Life of Margaret Fuller

The Life of Margaret Fuller

Synopsis

This acclaimed biography of Margaret Fuller, first published nearly five decades ago, is now available in a new, expanded edition. Based on Fuller's detailed journals and other writings, it records the life and experiences of a literary critic, radical educator, and outspoken feminist who was deeply involved in the political, spiritual, and cultural ferment that characterized mid-nineteenth century America. It also provides a comprehensive update on recent scholarship and documentary materials that have come to light since the biography's original publication.

Excerpt

Every reader knows that with each generation comes the need for reinterpreting the past to the present. Today the purpose of biography seems to be to search out the parallels that exist between our day and earlier times, and in order to fulfill that purpose it is necessary to "reanimate the old drawing-rooms, relight the old lamps, retune the old pianos." When the attempt to draw vivid and accurate pictures of the past is successfully accomplished, the biographer actually makes the past, present.

Such was the author's method in writing this biography. Margaret Fuller observed the milieu in which she lived without eclipsing it. She witnessed and analyzed intelligently the trends of her time--the growth of transcendentalism in Concord, the preoccupation with phrenology and animal magnetism in Providence, the search for Universal Unity at Brook Farm, the last stand of the Indians in the West, the awakening of interest in Beethoven and Goethe in Boston, the clash of pigs and poetry in New York, the futile struggle for liberty in Italy. Many a parallel exists between that rich and varied background and our own.

In order to give life to Margaret Fuller and her times, the writer had no need to invent situations or weave fancy into the web of fact. In an age of journal-writing Margaret Fuller was merely one of many who recorded both their thoughts and their conversation. The wealth of factual details found in journals and letters made imaginary ones unnecessary. Margaret Fuller's black mousseline dress, her velvet penwiper, her seal with Franklin's head, are actual; they are not colorful paraphernalia invented for the purpose of writing vivid biography. Indeed all the details that appear in this book are accurate and may be found in one or more of the sources listed in the bibliography. Once the details were discovered the writer assembled them in such a way that they would make the past live again. No lengthy quotations, no impersonal comments were allowed to intrude upon . . .

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