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The Solitude of Self: Thinking about Elizabeth Cady Stanton

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  91 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Elizabeth Cady Stanton--along with her comrade-in-arms, Susan B. Anthony--was one of the most important leaders of the movement to gain American women the vote. But, as Vivian Gornick argues in this passionate, vivid biographical essay, Stanton is also the greatest feminist thinker of the nineteenth century. Endowed with a philosophical cast of mind large enough to grasp t ...more
Hardcover, 135 pages
Published September 1st 2005 by Farrar Straus Giroux (first published 2005)
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This is a quest tale about a woman realizing her true self through activism. Elizabeth Cady Stanton is frequently represented as Susan B. Anthony’s comrade-in-arms who stayed home with the babies while Susan did the crusading. Yes, the woman was a baby machine for a time (seven children) but she was an uncompromising truth-teller. In reality, as she said, “I forge the thunderbolts and Susan launches them," with those thunderbolts becoming increasingly more radical and far-reaching.

What she lacke
This book made me a little crazy. It's not really a straight biography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton; it's also a personal essay by Gornick about her feminist roots and reflections on Stanton. I found Gornick's personal reflections to be so irritating that I had no faith in her analysis of Stanton. She struck me as completely unable to imagine or experience the social structures of Stanton's time without the most annoying kind of stereotypcial academic feminist disdain. Not that there is not much to ...more
This book is a deeply insightful portrait of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. It's not a straightforward biography and Vivian Gornick brings a beautiful perspective to Stanton's immeasurably valuable body of work. Great writing can bring things you might have learned in the past in a new and fascinating light, and that's what this book did for me - and made me unendingly grateful for what Elizabeth Cady Stanton did for women not just in the United States but in the world, forevermore.

Beyond that, I foun
The Solitude of Self: Thinking About Elizabeth Cady Stanton by Vivian Gornick
Published September 5th 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A full-length book about the most grandmotherly figure of the suffragette movement would be dull in anyone else’s hands. But Gornick uses the letters of Stanton and the clear passion her subject had for equality to craft a fully dimensional, interesting text.
Stanton is perhaps most famous for the last speech of her career, ‘The Solitude of Self.’ This presentati
Apr 25, 2008 Mona rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
In the early 1800s, the feminist movement gradually began to take shape in America. Society was structured as a male-dominated, Christian believing, and overall socio-politically republic for the well being of all men without regard to women, African Americans or other minorities. Women were raised to be good wives and mothers. When faced with extenuating circumstances such as a failed marriage, they were legally unable to protect themselves. They were protected by their legal guardians; first, ...more
I enjoy reading feminist history, however this book in particular just didn't grab me. Although I did particularly enjoy reading the author's personal interaction with this material.
Jul 23, 2009 Linda marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I love this quote: "No matter how women prefer to lean, to be protected and supported, nor how much men desire to have them do so they must make the voyage of life alone, and for safety in an emergency, they must know something of the laws of navigation. To guide our own craft, we must be captain, pilot, engineer; with chart and compass to stand at the wheel; to watch the winds and waves, and know when to take in the sail, and to read the signs in the firmament overall ... and if not equal to th ...more
Excellent book. Gornick's mixture of historical analysis of Stanton, the historical background she adds to explain the issues Stanton faced, and the commonalities that she highlights with the modern feminist experience all combine to make this an excellent book. Gornick also adds a philosophical component that ties the American feminist experience through the years and explains how radical feminism, even as what is radical changes, fits into the American tradition of dissent.
Christina Boyle
I was reflecting on the time period in which my college sorority was founded 1872 -- which coincident with the heat of the women's suffrage movement (and at Syracuse University - close by Seneca Falls). And I found my way to this book that discusses the circumstances that led to Elizabeth Cady Stanton's activism.

How interesting - and possibly tragic as well - to reflect that it took about 100 years for her and Susan B Anthony and others efforts to come to full fruition.
All I have to say is: <3

Disclaimer: although this is mostly a work of reflective nonfiction, the book is mega geared toward women. Seriously. I'm not sure if my reception would be as warm and fuzzy if I didn't have the double X going on myself. That being said, it's a well written take on an important woman in American History. Yay!
writing equal parts biography and autobiography, gornick nicely combines a fascinating intellectual history of susan b. anthony's somewhat lesser known comrade with her own story of feminist awakening and inspiration.
This is the second time I'm reading this book. Elizabeth Cady Stanton's thinking is so important to feminists - it just feels like time to read it again.
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Date of Birth: 1935

Vivian Gornick is an American critic, essayist, and memoirist. For many years she wrote for the Village Voice. She currently teaches writing at The New School. For the 2007-2008 academic year, she will be a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. She caused a controversy when she said that she had invented parts of Fierce Attachments, her largely autobiographica
More about Vivian Gornick...
Fierce Attachments: A Memoir The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative Approaching Eye Level The Odd Woman and the City: A Memoir Emma Goldman: Revolution as a Way of Life

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