Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyIn her red-leather riding habit which she said she wore ``in order to seem to be a man,'' French Revolutionary heroine Theroigne de Mericourt (1762-1817) advocated equal rights for both sexes. Her protofeminism was rejected by her fellow (male) patriots. Growing disgusted with the mob violence she helped to forment, she urged political moderation and was publicly whipped, the nadir in a life of humiliations, which led to the onset of madness. Institutionalized in 1794, this bohemian rebel of Ardennes peasant stock (born Anne-Joseph Terwagne) died in the insane asylum of La Salpetriere in Paris. In a penetrating psychobiography, French scholar Roudinesco replaces the popular image of Theroigne as either Amazon warrior, rabble-rouser or salon suffragette with a complex, flesh-and-blood early feminist. She also deconstructs the clinical theories of Philippe Pinel, the asylum's head doctor, and his disciple Etienne Esquirol, who brought madness within the domain of medical knowledge. Illustrations. (Aug.)
Library Journal - Library JournalDe Mericourt (1762-1817) was a notorious figure during the French Revolution. Roudinesco expertly demolishes the many legends created about her by contemporaries and 19th-century historians. She has variously been described as a debauchee, a murderous amazon, and a radical suffragette. During the revolution her chief contributions were her compaigns for women's political rights and her organization of women's clubs. The failure of the revolution to give women the rights that they demanded contributed to de Mericourt's mental collapse in 1794. She spent most of the rest of her life in various Parisian asylums. Roudinesco joins several other recent authors in painting a less-than-glorious portrait of the revolution. The final sections of the book provide a fascinating discussion of the early clinical treatment of mental illness. This work should appeal to both specialists and nonspecialists.-- Thomas J. Schaeper, St. Bonaventure Univ., N.Y.
- Analytical Psychology Club of San Francisco, Incorporated
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- 18 Years
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