By Donna Dickenson (auth.)
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Extra info for Margaret Fuller: Writing A Woman’s Life
With every disposition to defer to the authors of the Memoirs, all of whom have been in one way or another my friends and teachers, I am compelled in some cases to go with what seems the preponderance of written evidence against their view ... In their analysis, these biographers seem to me to have given an inevitable prominence to her desire for self-culture, perhaps because it was on this side that she encountered them; but I think that anyone who will patiently study her in her own unreserved moments will now admit that what she always most desired was not merely self-culture, but a career of mingled thought and action, such as she finally found ...
She produced three essays a week for the New York Tribune- 250 in all, despite those problems with 'freedom of utterance' with which the newspaper charged her in her obituary -and left six volumes of her correspondence with the great intellects of her time- Mazzini, Mickiewicz, Sand, Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne- aside from those lost forever by Ward and her other editors. She achieved the sort of sales enjoyed in James's time - much to his discomfort - by another woman, Edith Wharton.
This is not just 'eye-shot,' to the male critic like Poe, but serious literary criticism - since to know the authoress we must know the woman. To get the conversational woman in the mind's eye, all that is needed is to imagine her reciting the paragraph just quoted [a paragraph reproduced from Fuller's Summer on the Lakes, 1844]; but first let us have the personal woman. She is of the medium height; nothing remarkable about the figure; a profusion of lustrous light hair; eyes a bluish gray, full of fire; capacious forehead; the mouth when in repose indicates profound sensibility, capacity for affection, for love- when moved by a slight smile, it becomes even beautiful in the intensity of this expression; but the upper lip, as if impelled by the action of involuntary muscles, habitually 42 Margaret Fuller: Writing a Woman's Life uplifts itself, conveying the expression of a sneer.