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The Solitude of Self: Thinking About Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Vivian Gornick, Author
Vivian Gornick, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $17 (135p) ISBN 978-0-374-29954-5
Reviewed on: 06/20/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
Paperback - 135 pages - 978-0-374-53056-3
Open Ebook - 144 pages - 978-1-4299-2372-9
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Without the inimitable Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the voice of 19th-century feminists would have been much less forceful. Essayist and memoirist Gornick (Approaching Eye Level ) reflects on Stanton's (1815–1902) thought regarding the question of women's suffrage. Gornick anchors these rich ruminations on Stanton's final speech, vividly describing her subject, who, after some 40 years of striving for women's equality, focused on the vote as the critical right. She stood in front of her lifelong compatriots and enemies and argued that the inherent isolation of the human condition demands that people be allowed to be responsible for their own lives; thus, denying women the vote violates a basic human right to self-determination. Gornick explicates Stanton that "[p]olitics is meant to mitigate the misery to which the human condition consigns us, not add to it." This revelation resonates as Gornick investigates the development of Stanton's engagement with the ideas affecting her world, the resistance those ideas met with, and the choices she made, which defined the future of "radical" feminism. Though Gornick considers her own awakening in the early 1970s, she rarely strays to the current state of feminism. However, her intriguing ideas leave the reader hoping for more thinking from her on the subject. Agent, Charlotte Sheedy. (Sept.)

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