The Oxford Book of Women's Writing in the United States

The Oxford Book of Women's Writing in the United States

by Linda Wagner-Martin
     
 

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Reveling in the awareness that the best U.S. women's writing is, quite simply, some of the best in the world, editors Linda Wagner-Martin and Cathy N. Davidson have chosen selections spanning four centuries and reflecting the rich variety of American women's lives. The collection embraces the perspectives of age and youth, the traditional and the revolutionary, the… See more details below

Overview

Reveling in the awareness that the best U.S. women's writing is, quite simply, some of the best in the world, editors Linda Wagner-Martin and Cathy N. Davidson have chosen selections spanning four centuries and reflecting the rich variety of American women's lives. The collection embraces the perspectives of age and youth, the traditional and the revolutionary, the public and the private. Here is Judith Sargent Murray's 1790 essay "On the Equality of the Sexes," journalist Martha Gellhorn's "Last Words on Vietnam, 1987," and Mary Gordon's homage to the ghosts of Ellis Island, "More Than Just a Shrine"; powerful short stories by Zora Neale Hurston, Edith Wharton, Cynthia Ozick, and Toni Morrison; letters from Abigail Adams, Sarah Moore Grimke, Emma Goldman, and Georgia O'Keeffe; Alice B. Toklas's recipe "Bass for Picasso," and erotic offerings from Anais Nin and Rita Mae Brown. The moving autobiography of Zitkala-Sa, whose mother was a Sioux, tells us more about "otherness" than any sociological treatise, while Janice Mirikitani's and Nellie Wong's poems about being young Asian-American women, like Alice Walker's meditation on the beauty of growing old, speak to all readers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A generous survey of American women's voices that is as remarkable for its quality as it is for its breadth....As textbook, reference work, or cover-to-cover recreational reading, this collection is an outstanding editorial achievement."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Editors Wagner-Martin and Davidson pay tribute to the vibrant variety of American women's lives and writing in this meandering and happily idiosyncratic anthology....a wonderful spectrum."--Booklist

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wagner-Martin (Telling Women's Lives) and Davidson (Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji) offer a generous survey of American women's voices that is as remarkable for its quality as it is for its breadth. Asserting that much writing by women has been neglected because ``it did not fit into existing literary categories,'' they have organized their selections-written by almost 100 writers from the colonial era to the present-into six spacious categories: short fiction (from Sarah Orne Jewett to Helena Mara Viramontes); poetry (Anne Bradstreet to Carolyn Forch); public lives (Revolutionary War-era feminist Judith Sargent Murray to Anna Quindlen); acting out (a speech by Sojourner Truth, an excerpt from Anna Deveare Smith's performance piece Fires in the Mirror); private lives (personal letters of Abigail Adams, Emma Goldman and Mary McCarthy); and bodily pleasures (Alice B. Toklas's Haschich Fudge recipe; surprisingly, Emily Dickinson's poetry is included in the category of ``Erotica.''). The forms include short stories, novellas and poems as well as more informal chants, meditations and monologues. The entries also are cross-referenced by topic: childhood, identity, love relationships, etc. Read front to back, the book dwells at first on women's power struggles with loutish, insensitive men, but it segues effectively into explorations of sexuality, ethnic and political issues and internal conflicts. Some of the pieces, such as Abigail Adams's letter to John (``I desire you would Remember the Ladies'') highlight what women have been able (and unable) to say with language at various points in American history; others, like Cynthia Ozick's ``The Shawl,'' testify to what women can do with language. As textbook, reference work or cover-to-cover recreational reading, this collection is an outstanding editorial achievement. (June)
KLIATT
This anthology is definitely eclectic, ranging from poetry to short fiction, from speeches to journals, from plays to (mild) erotica, from recipes to rituals and ceremonies. Although it is unusual to have some of these genres of writing included in an anthology, Wagner-Martin and Davidson claim in the Introduction that "women have recorded what is important to them." What I admire about this particular anthology is the variety of women's lives, ethnicities, and viewpoints that are depicted. Each chapter highlights a particular genre or closely related genres, with the writers arranged from past to present. It is important to point out that this anthology does not just represent expressly feminist writings. The scope of women writers here is staggering, truly too many to mention, but here is a sampling: Emily Dickinson, Toni Morrison, Margaret Fuller, Sojourner Truth, Gloria Steinem, Gish Jen, and Abigail Adams. While this volume is by no means exhaustive, it does showcase nearly 100 writers whose works represent the greater body of women's writing. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1995, Oxford Univ. Press, 596p, 21cm, 95-1499, $18.95. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Janice Bees; Freelance Reviewer, Chicago, IL, July 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 4)
Library Journal
Just in time for the anniversary: a masterly and comprehensive anthology giving context to the long battle for the vote-and women's continuing struggle in the years since. Included here are short fiction, poems, essays, and speeches written in English over the last four centuries by 99 women of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. (LJ 5/1/95)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195132458
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
10/28/1999
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
608
Product dimensions:
7.90(w) x 5.30(h) x 1.20(d)

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