A New American Life
Mariner Books 2013
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in BiographyNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Literary StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network November 8, 2015 Lilian Calles Barger
Megan Marshall is the Charles Wesley Emerson College Professor in writing, literature and publishing. Her book Margaret Fuller: A New American Life (Mariner Books, 2013) won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in biography. Marshall has written a beautiful and detailed portrait of the nineteenth-century political thinker, women’s rights advocate, and writer Margaret Fuller. Fuller’s childhood begins in Cambridgeport, MA where under the tutelage of her demanding father, Timothy Fuller, she was immersed in the classics excelling in language, literature, and philosophy. Her prospects limited by her gender, considered plain and often lonely, Fuller went on to build an intellectual life and relationships with the leading transcendentalists. Her New England circles included the most prominent thinkers of her day, the Channings, the Peabody sisters, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Horace Greeley, and Nathaniel Hawthrone. Frequently earning a living as a teacher, she went on to write and edit the transcendentalist journal The Dial and began a series of lectures and discussion for women known as “conversations.” The erudite and intellectually confident Fuller struggled with creating and living out a new feminine ideal that included the life of the mind, intimate cross-gender friendships, and mutuality, which she attempted to work out in her relationships with Emerson, James Clarke and others. After her tragic death at sea in 1850, she is best remembered for her book Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845), at the time considered controversial and bold, explored the assumed nature of men and women and their relationship and proposed a new model for egalitarian marriages of mutuality and respect. Marshall has given us a compassionate biography of a remarkable woman who was born ahead of her time and inspired generations of feminists.
Lilian Calles Barger, www.lilianbarger.com, is a cultural, intellectual and gender historian. Her current book project is entitled The World Come of Age: An Intellectual History of Liberation Theology forthcoming from Oxford University Press.