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10-06-2005, 05:59 PM
Margaret Fuller: A Brief Biography with Documents

“Margaret Fuller, one of the most famous American women of her time, was known to her contemporaries as the first editor of the New England Transcendentalists’ literary journal and the author of…the feminist Woman in the Nineteenth Century” writes historian Eve Kornfeld in her preface to Margaret Fuller: A Brief Biography with Documents. (vii) In Kornfelds’ biography one gains a sense of the revolutionary ideas and enormous impact Fuller had as a woman in the nineteenth century. Her intelligence was noted by influential author and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson who “considered her one of his ‘luminaries,’ a shining light in his intellectual circle. ‘Wise, sincere, accomplished, and most entertaining,’ she was ‘one of the noblest of women.’” (3)

Besides her involvement as editor of the literary journal, The Dial, working as an assistant in Bronson Alcott’s Temple School in Boston and eventually as a journalist in 1844 for the New-York Daily Tribune, Fuller’s legacy stems mainly from her unrelenting desire to question prevailing gender stereotypes. In Woman in the Nineteenth Century, Fuller argues for a view of humans as having both masculine and feminine qualities. On the one hand is “Minerva” which represents the intellect and reason, while the “Muse” contains one’s intuitive and spiritual faculties. “If only these complementary elements were allowed to develop freely and fully within each individual man and woman, Fuller held, the frustrations of the divided self would evaporate.” (44) The legacy of Margaret Fuller continues to inspire and educate and upon completion of her book, Fuller wrote, “I felt a delightful glow as if I had put a good deal of my true life in it, as if, suppose I went away now, the measure of my foot-print would be left on earth.” (156)