Theroigne de Mericourt: A Melancholic Woman During the French Revolution

Elisabeth Roudinesco, Author Verso $34.95 (284p) ISBN 978-0-86091-324-5
In her red-leather riding habit which she said she wore ``in order to seem to be a man,'' French Revolutionary heroine Theroigne de Mericourt (1762-1817) advocated equal rights for both sexes. Her protofeminism was rejected by her fellow (male) patriots. Growing disgusted with the mob violence she helped to forment, she urged political moderation and was publicly whipped, the nadir in a life of humiliations, which led to the onset of madness. Institutionalized in 1794, this bohemian rebel of Ardennes peasant stock (born Anne-Joseph Terwagne) died in the insane asylum of La Salpetriere in Paris. In a penetrating psychobiography, French scholar Roudinesco replaces the popular image of Theroigne as either Amazon warrior, rabble-rouser or salon suffragette with a complex, flesh-and-blood early feminist. She also deconstructs the clinical theories of Philippe Pinel, the asylum's head doctor, and his disciple Etienne Esquirol, who brought madness within the domain of medical knowledge. Illustrations. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1991
Release date: 05/01/1991
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-2-226-18725-3
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