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The Lives of Margaret Fuller


The Lives of Margaret Fuller Cover

ISBN13: 9780393068054
ISBN10: 0393068056
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

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A brilliant writer and a fiery social critic, Margaret Fuller (1810-1850) was perhaps the most famous American woman of her generation. Outspoken and quick-witted, idealistic and adventurous, she became the leading female figure in the transcendentalist movement, wrote a celebrated column of literary and social commentary for Horace Greeley's newspaper, and served as the first foreign correspondent for an American newspaper. While living in Europe she fell in love with an Italian nobleman, with whom she became pregnant out of wedlock. In 1848 she joined the fight for Italian independence and, the following year, reported on the struggle while nursing the wounded within range of enemy cannons. Amid all these strivings and achievements, she authored the first great work of American feminism: . Despite her brilliance, however, Fuller suffered from self-doubt and was plagued by ill health. John Matteson captures Fuller's longing to become ever better, reflected by the changing lives she led.

Book News Annotation:

This new biography of nineteenth century feminist, journalist, and writer Margaret Fuller, examines the multifaceted career and personal life of one of the most important female public personalities of nineteenth-century America. Addressing her life as a series of episodes exemplified by a personality trait, the work explores Fuller's work as a writer, an activist, a sexually aware free woman, and as a core contributor to the literary and intellectual life of a nation. The volume is written in a comfortable narrative style that will appeal to general readers. Matteson is a Pulitzer prize winning journalist and professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (


From the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer John Matteson, an account of the "Susan Sontag" of nineteenth-century America.

About the Author

John Matteson holds doctoral degrees from Harvard and Columbia Universities. He was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Biography for Eden's Outcasts and is the author of The Lives of Margaret Fuller. He is a distinguished professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, where he lives.

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Jennifer Kemnitz, January 17, 2013 (view all comments by Jennifer Kemnitz)
I read very few biographies, partly because so many are poorly written. This one, however, was both well-researched and well-written, which is not too surprising since the biographer, Matteson, won the Pulitzer for his last book. The author displayed quite a lot of psychological insight in his treatment of his subject, the complex Margaret Fuller. A proto-feminist icon and one of the great intellects of her day, she was a friend to Emerson, Thoreau, the elder Henry James, and many other famous persons. She held all-female salons, whose audience included (later) founding feminists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Julia Ward Howe. Fuller edited The Dial, that famous transcendental journal, and wrote 3 books of nonfiction, including Woman in the Nineteenth Century, which was a bestseller in its day. She was even the first long-term foreign correspondent-- of either sex-- for an American newspaper, the New York Tribune, and became embroiled in Rome's 1848-9 rebellion against its Austrian rulers and even the papacy.

With all this, she was a flawed woman, and Matteson is able to put across her foibles as sympathetically as her triumphs. Wonderful!
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Marylisa Gavenas, January 30, 2012 (view all comments by Marylisa Gavenas)
Frankly, I wasn’t too interested in Transcendentalists and didn’t know much about Margaret Fuller before reading this. I bought it because Eden’s Outcasts, the author’s previous book, was a favorite (and won a much-deserved Pulitzer Prize for Biography). So I settled in for a nice winter’s read�"page after page of prize-winning prose.

I got that.

But after a few dozen pages of reliably gorgeous writing, I realized that Mr. Matteson was using his 19th-century heroine to open debate on very 21-century issues: why accomplishment in a woman is invariably perceived as arrogance; the power of a parent to push a child’s development; intellectual disparity between partners; how “plain women” were perceived then and now.

Mr. Matteson deserves another Pulitzer.

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Product Details

Matteson, John
W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date:
28 black-and-white illustrations
9.25 x 6.125 in

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Related Subjects

Biography » Literary
Biography » Women
Featured Titles » Biography
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General Medicine
History and Social Science » Feminist Studies » 1800 to 1920
History and Social Science » Feminist Studies » General
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Womens Studies
History and Social Science » World History » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General
Young Adult » General

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Product details 528 pages W. W. Norton & Company - English 9780393068054 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , From the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer John Matteson, an account of the "Susan Sontag" of nineteenth-century America.
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