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Thread: Mary Wollstonecraft

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2015

    Mary Wollstonecraft

    Will sense avoid sensibility in many regions of this world for another two centuries despite the good work of people like Virginia Woolf and Mary Wollstonecraft? Can humans have a whole society or will the individual wisdom of women not be allowed equal access and encouragement of and for their minds and every person's souls? This is the question raised and answered by an original women's rights author in France where the remains of the Cathar efforts and Troubadours still resonated more than anywhere else in the Old World. She was not French but she found this place still had the vestigial traces of freedoms once supported under Catharism.

    " 1792


    by Mary Wollstonecraft


    M. Talleyrand-Perigord,

    Late Bishop Of Autun.


    Having read with great pleasure a pamphlet which you have lately published, I dedicate this volume to you; to induce you to reconsider the subject, and maturely weigh what I have advanced respecting the rights of woman and national education: and I call with the firm tone of humanity; for my arguments, Sir, are dictated by a disinterested spirit- I plead for my sex- not for myself. Independence I have long considered as the grand blessing of life, the basis of every virtue and independence I will ever secure by contracting my wants, though I were to live on a barren heath.

    It is then an affection for the whole human race that makes my pen dart rapidly along to support what I believe to be the cause of
    virtue: and the same motive leads me earnestly to wish to see woman placed in a station in which she would advance, instead of retarding, the progress of those glorious principles that give a substance to morality. My opinion, indeed, respecting the rights and duties of woman, seems to flow so naturally from these simple principles, that I think it scarcely possible, but that some of the enlarged minds who formed your admirable constitution, will coincide with me.

    In France there is undoubtedly a more general diffusion of knowledge than in any part of the European world, and I attribute it, in a great measure, to the social intercourse which has long subsisted between the sexes. It is true, I utter my sentiments with freedom, that in France the very essence of sensuality has been extracted to regale the voluptuary, and a kind of sentimental lust has prevailed, which, together with the system of duplicity that the whole tenour of their political and civil government taught, have given a sinister sort of sagacity to the French character, properly termed finesse; from which naturally flow a polish of manners that injures the substance, by hunting sincerity out of society.- And, modesty, the fairest garb of virtue! has been more grossly insulted in France than even in England, till their women have treated as prudish that attention to decency, which brutes instinctively observe."

    Virginia Woolf said, “My greatest adventure was undoubtedly Proust. What is there left to write after that?” Who are you to argue with Virginia Woolf?

    You may have seen the movie WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF yet not remember anything she wrote, so here is a sample of her great insight on nations.

    "Therefore if you insist upon fighting to protect me, or ‘our' country, let it be understood, soberly and rationally between us, that you are fighting to gratify a sex instinct which I cannot share; to procure benefits which I have not shared and probably will not share; but not to gratify my instincts, or to protect myself or my country, ‘For', the outsider will say, ‘in fact, as a woman, I have no country, As a woman I want no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.' And if, when reason has had its say, still some obstinate emotion remains, some love of England dropped into a child's ear by the cawing of rooks in an elm tree, by the splash of waves on a beach, or by English voices murmuring nursery rhymes, this drop of pure, if irrational, emotion she will serve her to give to England first what she desires of peace and freedom for the whole world." (3)

    Theology has devised numerous methods to warp and weave the nature of reality into Trinitarian constructs far removed from the Triune Nature of Man. How does one put their mind around a ‘one god’ with ‘Laddio, Daddio and Spook’? Notice the definite lack
    of Taoist or feminine content in this Monotheism. In the pantheon of a religion that says there should be no graven images the production of icons and relics or Saints (demi- gods), or all the cherubim and angels seems a little busy and full of superstition to me.
    Some day maybe someone will be able to explain how it is even as monotheistic as the pagan ideals, which represent nature and its forces. Amun was part of the Sphinx and is a primary or one god confluence of force. Aten is little different and a refinement of that
    theme. Ahken –‘aten’ may have been Moses/Nefertiti and all the other roles he played as he sought power on both sides of the issues while initiating male domination in the pantheon headed by Jehovah rather than the dual gender YHVH. Aton and Atonement or
    at-one-ment is more my style of viewing things. What a web of deceit this all has been! Is man really the highest form of life on earth? I wonder about the wolf and its ethics of family orientation and then I see wolf-like behaviour in cronyistic elites.
    Last edited by R_Baird; 03-27-2016 at 08:02 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Does hardship breed courage and compassion only in the few? Or is it a motivation for every person when that hardship is caused by cruelty? Is marriage a form of tyranny for many women even today?

    "The Anglo-Irish feminist, intellectual and writer, Mary Wollstonecraft, was born in London, the second of six children. Her father, Edward John Wollstonecraft, was a family despot who bullied his wife, Elizabeth Dixon, into a state of wearied servitude. He spent a fortune which he had inherited in various unsuccessful ventures at farming which took the family to six different locales throughout Britain by 1780, the year Mary's mother died.

    At the age of nineteen Mary went out to earn her own livelihood. In 1783, she helped her sister Eliza escape a miserable marriage by hiding her from a brutal husband until a legal separation was arranged. The two sisters established a school at Newington Green, an experience from which Mary drew to write Thoughts on the Education of Daughters: With Reflections on Female Conduct, in the More Important Duties of Life (1787). Mary became the governess in the family of Lord Kingsborough, living most of the time in Ireland. Upon her dismissal in 1787, she settled in George Street, London, determined to take up a literary career.

    In 1788 she became translator and literary advisor to Joseph Johnson, the publisher of radical texts. In this capacity she became acquainted with and accepted among the most advanced circles of London intellectual and radical thought. When Johnson launched the Analytical Review in 1788, Mary became a regular contributor of articles and reviews. In 1790 she produced her Vindication of the Rights of Man, the first response to Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France. She was furious that the man who had once defended the American colonies so eloquently should now assault the sacred revolution and libel Richard Price, a close friend of her Newington days.

    In 1792, she published her Vindication on the Rights of Woman, an important work which, advocating equality of the sexes, and the main doctrines of the later women's movement, made her both famous and infamous in her own time. She ridiculed prevailing notions about women as helpless, charming adornments in the household. Society had bred "gentle domestic brutes." "Educated in slavish dependence and enervated by luxury and sloth," women were too often nauseatingly sentimental and foolish. A confined existence also produced the sheer frustration that transformed these angels of the household into tyrants over child and servant. Education held the key to achieving a sense of self-respect and anew self-image that would enable women to put their capacities to good use.

    In Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman, published unfinished in Paris in 1798, Mary asserted that women had strong sexual desires and that it was degrading and immoral to pretend otherwise. This work alone sufficed to damn Mary in the eyes of critics throughout the following century.

    In 1792 she set out for Paris. There, as a witness of Robespierre's Reign of Terror, she collected materials for An Historical and Moral View of the Origins and Progress of the French Revolution: and the effect it has Produced in Europe (vol I, 1794), a book which was sharply critical of the violence evident even in the early stages of the French Revolution.

    At the home of some English friends in Paris Mary met Captain Gilbert Imlay, an American timber-merchant, the author of The Western Territory of North America (1792). She agreed to become his common law wife and at Le Havre in May 1794, she bore him a daughter, Fanny. In November 1795, after a four months' visit to Scandinavia as his "wife," she tried to drown herself from Putney Bridge, Imlay having deserted her.

    Mary eventually recovered her courage and went to live with William Godwin in Somers-town with whom she had first met at the home of Joseph Johnson in 1791. Although both Godwin and Mary abhorred marriage as a form of tyranny, they eventually married due to Mary's pregnancy (March 1797). In August, a daughter Mary (who later became Shelley's wife), was born and on September 10 the mother died.

    Mary Wollstonecraft was a radical in the sense that she desired to bridge the gap between mankind's present circumstances and ultimate perfection. She was truly a child of the French Revolution and saw a new age of reason and benevolence close at hand. Mary undertook the task of helping women to achieve a better life, not only for themselves and for their children, but also for their husbands. Of course, it took more than a century before society began to put her views into effect."

    Imagine a world where her kind of person was uppermost.

    Wikipedia is also worth reading.

    "During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children's book. Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason.

    Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft's life, which encompassed several unconventional personal relationships, received more attention than her writing. After two ill-fated affairs, with Henry Fuseli and Gilbert Imlay (by whom she had a daughter, Fanny Imlay), Wollstonecraft married the philosopher William Godwin, one of the forefathers of the anarchist movement. Wollstonecraft died at the age of 38, eleven days after giving birth to her second daughter, leaving behind several unfinished manuscripts. This daughter, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, became an accomplished writer herself, as Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.

    After Wollstonecraft's death, her widower published a Memoir (1798) of her life, revealing her unorthodox lifestyle, which inadvertently destroyed her reputation for almost a century. However, with the emergence of the feminist movement at the turn of the twentieth century, Wollstonecraft's advocacy of women's equality and critiques of conventional femininity became increasingly important. Today Wollstonecraft is regarded as one of the founding feminist philosophers, and feminists often cite both her life and work as important influences."
    Last edited by R_Baird; 02-24-2016 at 12:43 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Since we have mentioned Mary Shelley and her great book Frankenstein - I thought this article from Upswell Magazine might fit here.

    An excellent appreciation of myth in all religions focuses on Joseph Campbell who along with Jung and Eliade are my favorite inspirations as I wander among aliens, dragons and monsters - all the while being scorched and flamed by idiots and fruitcakes.

    Category: Science - Upswell Magazine

    "If Kneale’s argument sounds reductive and simplistic, it’s because it is. An earlier work drawing from a much broader research base shows that the creativity of the human mind—myth, religion and monsters included—is inspired by much more than just our fears. Joseph Campbell’s seminal The Hero With a Thousand Faces assesses a huge range of myths from across the world—from Buddhist stories and Christianity to the beliefs of Ancient Greeks through to those of native peoples of North America and Australia. From these impressive readings he concludes that all stories and myths take the same essential forms and serve particular psychosocial functions. For instance, “the happy ending of the fairy tale, the myth, and the divine comedy of the soul, is to be read, not as a contradiction, but as a transcendence of the universal tragedy of man.”[7] This tragedy, that everyone dies sooner or later, becomes in myth more than a grim source of fear and uncertainty to be relieved by a literal reading of after-life stories. The tragedy is exposed to us through tales that help resolve our deep anxiety in a social and psychological framework.

    What Campbell reveals is that what—or who—we see “out there” and what we encounter on our journeys through strange lands are in fact reflective of ourselves. “The passage of the mythological hero may be overground, incidentally; fundamentally it is inward—into depths where obscure resistances are overcome.”[8] {You will read me saying this is a symptom of paranoia and projection. What is alien to our sense of self is used against us as part of brainwashing us to be something less than Campbell's Hero. In time these projections become archetypes in the ether which casts it's pall across the ages and wells up as stories of Interventions from Gods and Extra-terrestrials. It can be seen in Kangaroo Courts of web sites where goons lurk awaiting new meat. It can be found in threads here where circle-jerking pseudo-intellects procure each other's effluent as validation of something they pretend is research into consciousness.}

    The things that scare us tap into the wellspring of the human psyche: they can inspire us to create, and they can set us some useful boundaries. If Kneale is correct, some of the broadest ranging social institutions—complete with moral rules and gruesome monsters—have been generated from a place of anxiety. And whether or not his argument has some elements of truth, and if perhaps it seems a cynical view on humanity, the point is that it’s not all bad. “It has always been the prime function of mythology,” says Campbell, “to provide the symbols that carry the human spirit forward, in counteraction to those other constant human fantasies that tend to tie it back.”[9]

    We tell each other stories about those things that frighten us, and in doing so learn not only about ourselves, but gain some insight on how to overcome such fears.

    Like one who, on a lonely road,
    Doth walk in fear and dread,
    And, having once turned around, walks on,
    And turns no more his head;
    Because he knows a frightful fiend
    Doth close behind him tread.

    These lines from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner come to Frankenstein immediately after he flees his newly animate creation.[10] He’s running not from the creature itself, which has yet even to speak, but from the hideousness of what he has accomplished. Mary Shelley’s classic shows the interplay between fear and creativity, and makes an excellent example of frightfully demonstrative stories."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Stanford Encyclopedia has a larger treatment of her and her impact.

    "First published Wed Apr 16, 2008; substantive revision Tue Sep 17, 2013

    Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797) was a moral and political theorist whose analysis of the condition of women in modern society retains much of its original radicalism. One of the reasons her pronouncements on the subject remain challenging is that her reflections on the status of the female sex were part of an attempt to come to a comprehensive understanding of human relations within a civilization increasingly governed by acquisitiveness. Her first publication was on the education of daughters; she went on to write about politics, history and various aspects of philosophy in a number of different genres that included critical reviews, translations, pamphlets, and novels. Best known for her Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), her influence went beyond the substantial contribution to feminism she is mostly remembered for and extended to shaping the art of travel writing as a literary genre and, through her account of her journey through Scandinavia, she had an impact on the Romantic movement.

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    1. Biography

    The second of seven children, Mary Wollstonecraft was born in Spitalfields, London, on 27 April 1759, in a house in Primrose Street. Her paternal grandfather was a successful master weaver who left a sizeable legacy, but her father, Edward John, mismanaged his share of the inheritance. He tried to establish himself as a gentleman farmer in Epping. This was the first of the family's several moves, each of which marked its financial and social decline. Only Mary's brother, Edward (Ned), was to receive a formal education; he became a lawyer. He had also inherited directly from his grandfather a substantial part of the latter's legacy.

    Wollstonecraft's own somewhat haphazard education was, however, not entirely unusual for someone of her sex and position, nor was it particularly deficient. Her published writings show her to have acquired a true command of the Bible, a good knowledge of the works of several of the most famous Ancients and of the writings of Shakespeare and Milton. The nature and extent of her reading was partly owed to the friendship shown to her in her youth by a retired clergyman and his wife. Nevertheless, as a woman from an impecunious family, her prospects were very limited. In relatively rapid succession, she was to enter the most likely occupations for someone of her sex and circumstances: a lady's companion, a schoolteacher, and a governess.

    In 1778, she was engaged as a companion to a Mrs Dawson and lived at Bath. She returned home to nurse her ailing mother in the latter part of 1781. After Mrs Wollstonecraft's death, in the spring of 1782, Mary lived with the Bloods, the impoverished family of her dearest friend, Fanny. In the winter of 1783, Mary left them in order to attend to her sister Eliza and her newly born daughter. There followed the first of the emotionally very difficult episodes in Mary's life. What prompted Mary to intervene as decisively as she did in her sister's marriage remains somewhat of a mystery; but in the course of January 1784, Mary took her sister away, and the two women went into hiding, leaving Eliza's infant daughter behind; the baby died the following August.

    By February of that year, the two sisters had already been planning to establish a school with Fanny Blood. Mary's other sister, Everina, joined in the project a little later. They first set their sights on Islington, then moved to Newington Green, where Mary met the moral and political thinker, the Reverend Richard Price, head of Newington's thriving Dissenting community, and heard him preach. This was a crucial encounter for Mary. Several years later, she was to rise to his defence in a Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790), and it was through her connections to members of this community that she was to gain an introduction to her future publisher, friend, and one might even say, patron, Joseph Johnson."
    Last edited by R_Baird; 03-21-2016 at 07:31 AM.

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