-- Epigraph to Howard's End, E. M. Forster
This anthology of stories and poems by women is unusual. It is shaped neither by a particular literary code nor by an overriding political ideology and chooses to reflect both the failure and the triumph of its shaping ideal: the achievement of personal empowerment through human connection.
Patricia Ellen Daly is her own brand of women's studies scholar, one of those women who has, from the first, linked her feminist intellectual interests with concerns for social and religious reform, the environment, pacifism, and animal rights. This collection of stories and poems speaks to her abiding belief in the shaping power of empathy in all human interaction with one another and the world we inhabit.
These works chosen by Dr. Daly reflect a variety of women and their points of view. Some of the selections demonstrate the destructive power of isolation and disconnectedness that is, and has been, the result of a history of gender socialization based on the differences between women and men. Other of the chosen works show the beneficent effects of affiliation, collaboration, and understanding between the sexes. In each, what has been called the "sex/gender system" is held up for close examination and, in the end, is put aside in favor of the amelioration of gender difference and the abandonment of the continued polarization of the sexes.
I hasten to add that advocating empathy between women and men has been seen as debilitating to women in some "second wave" literary feminist studies. Clearly, Dr. Daly has rejected this notion and has defined "empathy" as a positive force, clearly distinguished from "identification with the oppressor" or other of the more benign seductions of transferential identification with the powerful. Her vision, as demonstrated in the works that follow, urges peaceful