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The Lives of Margaret Fuller: A Biography
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The Lives of Margaret Fuller: A Biography

3.5 2
by John Matteson
 

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“Psychologically rich. . . . Matteson’s book restores the heroism of [Fuller’s] life and work.”—The New Yorker
Abrilliant 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

Overview

“Psychologically rich. . . . Matteson’s book restores the heroism of [Fuller’s] life and work.”—The New Yorker
Abrilliant 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: Woman in the Nineteenth Century. 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.

Editorial Reviews

Boston Globe
“Matteson’s portrait of Fuller, given depth and sheen by a treasure trove of letters, is unfailingly intelligent, nuanced and intriguing.”
New York Times
“Well-written. . . . [Readers] will admire her spirit, intellect, and courage.”
Wall Street Journal
“John Matteson performs a service in producing a . . . biography that will introduce this learned, prolific and eccentric American to a wider audience.”
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“[Matteson’s] writing seems to derive palpable energy from Fuller’s own dynamism. . . . In the end he discovers a Fuller that is startlingly modern in her contradictions and commitments.”
Joanna Scutts
Matteson skillfully fills in the political and cultural background to Fuller's shape-shifting life, and sketches the biographies of the hundreds of renowned and obscure figures with whom she conversed, exchanged letters and shared ideas. The result is a substantial and satisfying biography, which brings Fuller's life back into popular view without simplifying her diverse and extraordinary achievements.
—The Washington Post
Mary Beth Norton
“In the title of his well-written book, Matteson refers to the "lives" of Margaret Fuller because, he explains, she continually reinvented herself over the course of her lifetime.”
Robert Ferguson
“The great strength of John Matteson’s biography lies in his ability to place Margaret Fuller against the social milieu that both made her possible and got in her way. We see, as never before, a life constantly moving onto new ground.”
Library Journal
Margaret Fuller, associate of Emerson, Hawthorne, and the other Concord intellectuals and most famous for her Woman in the Nineteenth Century as well as for her tragic death, was a determined and brilliant woman who struggled to find her place in the 19th-century world. In this extensive biography, Pulitzer Prize winner Matteson (English, John Jay Coll. of Criminal Justice, CUNY; Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father) not only gives the reader a clearer understanding of Fuller, but also draws a fairly complete picture of her environment and time. Among the many Fuller biographies, this work distinguishes itself by accomplishing the difficult task of making the subject come to life. Through Matteson's easy narrative style and presentation of Fuller "as a series of identities," readers can begin to understand her drive and her flaws. VERDICT The work is well written, easily accessible, and entertaining. Prior knowledge of Fuller is not necessary to enjoy it. A great read for anyone interested in extraordinary women in our literary and women's history. [See Prepub Alert, 7/11/11.]—Paolina Taglienti, Everest Coll.-Henderson, Las Vegas

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393343595
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
01/21/2013
Pages:
528
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

John Matteson was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Biography for Eden’s Outcasts and is also the author of The Lives of Margaret Fuller, which received the Ann M. Sperber Prize for Best Biography of a Journalist. He has been a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society and of the Leon Levy Center for Biography. He received the Distinguished Faculty Award of the John Jay College Alumni Association and the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Achievement from the Columbia University School of Arts and Sciences. Distinguished Professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, he lives in the Bronx.

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The Lives of Margaret Fuller: A Biography 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Marilise More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago