26 January 2012

The Lives of Margaret Fuller. John Matteson on Woman-Stirred


This week on Woman-Stirred Radio, I am delighted to welcome back Pulitzer prize winner  John Matteson, author of Outcasts in Eden. His new biography, The Lives of Margaret Fuller has already garnered critical acclaim. (New York Times Book Review January 22, 2012)

Fuller, the most famous American feminist writer and thinker of her generation, wrote literary and social commentary for Horace Greeley and was the very first foreign correspondent for an American newspaper. She is also the author of the first great work of American feminism, Women in the Nineteenth Century.

The eldest of her family, Fuller was born in Massachusetts in 1810 and under the stern tutelage of her father was known as a prodigy:  "it should be emphasized that she enjoyed this role and, at least by the time she was eight, was not being compelled to fill her mind with Latin and Greek grammar entirely against her will" (23).

A difficult personality, whose intellectual brilliance outpaced her emotional development, Fuller established friendships with men who fired her imagination and love of learning. She was also condescending and suffered for it, but learning, as she matured, that she could "take the ordinary hopes and feelings of those she favored and to raise them to a height of poetic beauty and importance" (72).

She made friends with Emerson, taught with Bronson Alcott at his innovative Boston school, and later, in Europe, met Elizabeth Barrett Browning and George Sand.

While living in Europe, Fuller fell in love with an Italian nobleman, Giovanni Angelo Ossoli, and bore his son. In 1848, Fuller joined the fight for Italian independence and reported on the war while caring for the wounded within range of enemy cannon. Margaret Fuller was, in short, no slouch.

So please join me this Thursday, January 26th at 5:00, for a wonderful discussion with John Matteson about the fascinating Margaret Fuller.

Want to join the conversation? Don't be shy! Call the air studio at 802.454.7762.

Woman-Stirred Radio is underwritten by Sinister Wisdom, celebrating 35 years of  lesbian-feminist arts and letters. Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR 91.1 fm and WGDH 91.7 fm, Goddard College's community radio station located in Plainfield, Vermont.