Margaret Fuller, problem child of American transcendentalism, gets fresh treatment from Pulitzer Prize-winner John Matteson.
“How can you describe a Force?” asked her friend Sam Ward after she was drowned. “How can you write a life of Margaret?”
If writing a biography of Margaret Fuller was difficult at the moment of her premature death in 1850, it has become no easier in the decades since. Fuller, who has been described as “the mysterious, presiding ghost of American transcendentalism,” has faded rather quietly into the shadows of history – an ironic fate for a woman who was known for being anything but quiet during her life.
But Fuller may now be getting a bit more of the respect that she deserves. Award-wining biographer John Matteson has published The Lives of Margaret Fuller, a thorough, sympathetic examination of one of the more unusual figures of the 19th-century American intelligentsia – a woman who worked shoulder-to-shoulder with period geniuses such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Amos Bronson Alcott; who alternately irritated and fascinated literary greats like Nathaniel Hawthone and Edgar Allan Poe; and who enjoyed rare pleasures such as a chance to drift down the Concord River with Henry David Thoreau.
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