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Cover for the book The Achievement of Margaret Fuller

The Achievement of Margaret Fuller

Margaret Vanderhaar Allen
  • Copyright: 1979
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 260 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-00215-6

Feminist, revolutionary, adventuress these dramatic aspects of her life and her romantic death at sea are the myth of Margaret Fuller. This is the first book that considers Fuller as an intellectual leader on a par with Emerson and Thoreau, her contemporaries. Dr. Allen explores Fuller's achievements as writer, literary critic, feminist, journalist, and commentator on American society; she also examines the process through which Fuller's reputation was obscured following her death in 1850.

For those unfamiliar with Margaret Fuller, this book begins with the essential facts of her life and death. Goaded by her father, she became a scholar in an era when woman scholars were rare. She went on to teach other women, edited the Dial, wrote on women's rights and on frontier life—the latter an incisive work on the Indians and their virtual extermination during American settlement of the West. She left Boston and became literary critic and then foreign correspondent for Horace Greeley's New York Tribune, finally taking part, with her lover Ossoli, in the Italian revolution of 1848. But this book's main concern is with Fuller's ideas, The complex friendship between Fuller and Emerson is explored, as is the damage Emerson wrought on her reputation as writer and thinker. Although other books have neglected the most important intellectual influence on Fuller, this book details Goethe's effect on Fuller's humanism, and it shows how and why she became one of America's great humanists.

Margaret Fuller is seen here as a brilliant, compassionate, deeply feeling woman struggling to reconcile inner and outer life, thought and action, mind and emotion, "a man's ambition and a woman's heart." Her humanism and her writing were particularly suited to the cultural climate of the young American republic. This book examines her writing style, literary achievements, and contributions to American culture and establishes her place in the context of her era in New England and the more important context of the Western cultural heritage.

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