Margaret Fuller: An American Romantic Life - Vol. 1

Margaret Fuller: An American Romantic Life - Vol. 1

Margaret Fuller: An American Romantic Life - Vol. 1

Margaret Fuller: An American Romantic Life - Vol. 1

Synopsis

With this first volume of a two-part biography of the Transcendentalist critic and feminist leader, Margaret Fuller, Capper has launched the premier modern biography of early America's best-known intellectual woman. Based on a thorough examination of all the first-hand sources, many of them never before used, this volume is filled with original portraits of Fuller's numerous friends and colleagues and the influential movements that enveloped them. Writing with a strong narrative sweep, Capper focuses on the central problem of Fuller's life--her identity as a female intellectual--and presents the first biography of Fuller to do full justice to its engrossing subject. This first volume chronicles Fuller's "private years": her gradual, tangled, but fascinating emergence out of the "private" life of family, study, Boston-Cambridge socializing, and anonymous magazine-writing, to the beginnings of her rebirth as antebellum America's female prophet-critic. Capper's biography is at once an evocative portrayal of an extraordinary woman and a comprehensive study of an avant-garde American intellectual type at the beginning of its first creation.

Excerpt

In 1970, as a fledgling teaching assistant at the University of California, Berkeley, I taught a course on what I portentously called "The American Avant-Garde between the World Wars." This course underscored an interest that led me in a strange way eventually to Margaret Fuller. During the previous few years I had become fascinated with a seemingly ubiquitous, modern American intellectual figure--the conflicted, alienated, avant-garde thinker who, despite or because of his (and sometimes her) alienation, looked hopefully to popular, world-historical transformations. A few years later, searching for that type's archetype, I found myself turning to the antebellum Romantic era, specifically its Transcendentalist intellectuals. Meanwhile, I became interested in the flowering of women's history, which was then pushing to the center of the historical stage whole battalions of heretofore marginalized outsiders. But how and when, if ever, these two outsider-insider currents were linked remained a mystery to me. This mystery increased with the deepening post-1960s disillusionment with transcendent ideals and the simultaneous preoccupation of women's historians with socialbehaviorist paradigms over high-cultural ones. At this ambiguous moment at the end of the decade, I found Margaret Fullerand experienced a shock of recognition.

Before I quite knew what to do with this fact, I also began to discover other things about Margaret Fuller. One was that she was the most written-about woman in early American history. This did not surprise me. Fuller was not only the best-known American intellectual woman of her day, she was one of antebellum America's leading Transcendentalist theoreticians, its most important literary critic, its most sophisticated women's cultural leader, and one of its most widely read international journalists. But it soon became clear to me that Fuller's importance as a historical figure went deeper than these achievements: she was nothing less than the first woman in America to establish herself as a dominant . . .

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