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Adrienne Rich
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On Lies, Secrets And Silence: Selected Prose 1966 1978

4.37 of 5 stars 4.37  ·  rating details  ·  627 ratings  ·  31 reviews
One of America's foremost poets and feminist theorists collect here some of her most important early prose writings. On Lies, Secrets, and Silence is an extraordinary sort of travel diary, documenting Adrienne Rich's journeys to the frontier and into the interior. It traces the development of one individual consciousness, 'playing over such issues as motherhood, racism, hi ...more
Published (first published 1979)
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Aubrey
I've been considering getting a gun since the Isla Vista shootings. My pacifist ideals are all very well, but it's my sister I'm concerned with, my sister who once desired to go to UC Santa Barbara, to commit to four years amongst that population currently sensationalized by the media eye for its tears, its terror, its #YesAllWomen and countercurrent #YesAllPeople. Going to college next year for her means a 20% chance of rape, a laughable chance of respectful retribution, and an opportunity to b ...more
Miriam
I feel rejuvenated. I can use a lot of this book as inspiration for my life's work. Some of it is a little 1970s for me, but some of it rings so true, that I fear we haven't come very far at all since she wrote this. Like the precariousness of birth control and women's reproductive rights. Like the general disrespect society and culture have for women, even with the positive stereotypes of the angel of the house and the self-sacrificing mother. Sure, everyone wants to HAVE one of those, but if y ...more
Luzma Umpierre
This essential book in Feminist thought taught me the value of having no lies, no secrets and no silence in the relationships among women. She has an essay/chapter on Re/vision that is a must read in dealing with the concept of what Lesbian revisionism is. Now there are authors who think that this term comes out of the new culture as used today but it goes back, exemplarily so, to Rich who although constantly glorified is not used as a role model for the intestinal wars among women writers such ...more
Andreea
One serious cultural obstacle encountered by any feminist writer is that each feminist work has tended to be received as if it emerged from nowhere; as if each of us had lived, thought, and worked without any historical past or contextual present. This is one of the ways in which women's work and thinking has been made to seem sporadic, errant, orphaned of any tradition of its own. (p. 11)


This was, hm, disappointing. I really enjoyed some of the essays, especially 'Toward a Woman-Centered Uni
...more
Simon Dobson
I was brought to this book through one of the essays in it, Claiming an education, that talks about the need for students (and especially women students) to actively claim their educations rather than passively receive them. I still think this is the most powerful element of this collection, but there's lots more to engage the reader.

It's not an easy collection for a man to read, not least because of the sense of powerlessness it evokes – which is ironic, given that many of the essays are replet
...more
Graham
An interesting and diverse collections of essays on literature, language, activism, race, education, and feminist aims, all very readable, though written with strikingly intelligent and aesthetically talented mind. Nearly a better prose writer than a poet, Rich's work here is consistently both strongly impassioned and calmly rational. Not to say that I don't think she's a good poet, but I certainly felt more radicalised after reading her essays than her poetry!

Rich's commentary in this book, wit
...more
Whitney
“Re-Vision--the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction--is for us more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival. Until we can understand the assumptions in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves. And this drive to self-knowledge, for woman, is more than a search for identity: it is part of her refusal of the self-destructiveness of male dominated society. A radical critique of literature, feminist in its i ...more
Ming Jiu Li
In the foreword, A.R. writes in response to the question, 'how shall we ever make the world intelligent on our movement' - "I do not think the answer lies in trying to render feminism easy, popular, and instantly gratifying. To conjure with the passive culture and adapt to its rules is to degrade and deny the fullness of our meaning and intention."

This work fully embodies its initial promise. It is not an easy read, but by difficult it is not in the mold of male-dominated academic writing, delib
...more
Erol Yeşilyurt
As a male reader of A. Rich, I must say, I am glad to have read this book. She is writing in a style that is personal, direct and without irony. There are many points that she makes I am not agreed with, but she is asking the right questions and searching for answers from a feminist stand point. In 1970's it must have outraged many, but, provides a liberating point of view for males too. This book is a must read in order to examine the life as it is. She is also sharply warning about turning fem ...more
Rein
Jan 03, 2014 Rein marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word ‘love’ — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other. It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation. It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity. It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with ...more
Abby
I wish I had found and read this essay collection when I was writing my thesis... This collection houses a series of essays and reflections by the recently late poet Adrienne Rich. Rich's perspectives on feminism, women scholarship, poetry, and civilization are powerfully expressed and very single-minded. You can trace her basic, guiding principles through every essay, whether it be about modern motherhood, Emily Dickinson, or the treatment of women students at universities. A worthy and heady e ...more
Katie
Read for Engendering Rhetorical Power class. Since I've mostly read her poetry, it was nice to be exposed to the full force of her craft in prose. Sometimes repetitive as a group of essays over a decade reflecting her growing thinking about feminist and lesbian issues, this book over all advocates for a communal experience of women privileging their own voices, experiences, and community.
Bridgett
There are essays in this book that I will reread the rest of my life. "Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying" and "When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-vision" are as compelling as they were when I first read them 15 years ago nearly 20 years after they were first written."
Ann
I did not read all the essays - just a few that looked most accessible. I was reminded what a wonderful writer she is, and how incisively intelligent. The standout essay for me was "Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying". Definitely one to come back to from time to time.
Claudia Deloach
A poet and feminist theorist writes early prose documenting Adrienne Rich's journeys to the frontier and into the interior. She covers issues of motherhood, racism, poetry, scholarship, and the politics of language. Indispensable book on women's movement.
Robin
Adrienne Rich covers span everything from motherhood to the poetry of Emily Dickinson to women in academia. Although much has changed since the 70s, many of the issues presented have not been resolved. This book is essential feminist reading.
Rachel
I picked this up because I like some of Adrienne Rich's poetry. Turns out I like her prose too! It's depressing that much of what she said about feminism in the 60s and 70s is still true. It made me feel more motivated to do things about it.
Ann White
Rich's essay on Honor is a must-read. Strikes me as the most important piece of the book, outweighing even her notes on Dickinson (Vesuvius at Home). I've read this one essay many, many times over the years.
Melinda
Rich's poetry is classicly formed and has a wonderful cadence unlike many that I have read. She is a poet with a fragile touch of words and understands that sound of the word is just as important as the written word.
Kay Baird
What I kept noticing here (though I only read some of the book) was Rich's examination of the experience of woman writers. I was struck by her quoting Tillie Olsen that "Every woman who writes is a survivor."
Jesse
Sep 26, 2007 Jesse rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I fell in love with Adrienne Rich when I read "Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying." This is a collection of essays and speeches on a variety of topics, mostly female-centered.
Susan Laddon
I did not read the description of this collection-Selected Prose before checking it out of the Coronado Library. That having been said, I am still interested in reading it.
Jennifer Stalvey
I return to Rich's stunningly clear exploration of gender on a regular basis when I need reminding, when I need to be pierced by insight and told the truth.
Favor
"Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying" is my bible. I share copies with everyone I think I might grow to love. It's so important.
Leigh Ellis
Of all the books I've read, "On Lies, Secrets, and Silence" has impacted me the most.
Viki
i've gone through 2 or 3 copies of this in my life.
Come back to it like a Bible.
Libby
Another book from my early feminist years. Very influential, probably a little dated now.
SmarterLilac
I like; even if it is almost too frightening to read.
Katrina
Sep 19, 2009 Katrina rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: feminists, academics, and those committed to fighting racism
We are reading this for Bluestockings this month.
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Adrienne Rich (b. 1929). Born to a middle-class family, Rich was educated by her parents until she entered public school in the fourth grade. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Radcliffe College in 1951, the same year her first book of poems, A Change of World, appeared. That volume, chosen by W. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, and her next, The Diamond Cutters and Other Poems ...more
More about Adrienne Rich...
Diving Into the Wreck The Dream of a Common Language The Fact of a Doorframe: Poems Selected and New, 1950-1984 Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution An Atlas of the Difficult World

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“Re-vision – the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction – is for woman more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival. Until we understand the assumptions in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves. And this drive to self-knowledge, for women, is more than a search for identity: it is part of our refusal of the self-destructiveness of male-dominated society.” 76 likes
“Women have been driven mad, "gaslighted," for centuries by the refutation of our experience and our instincts in a culture which validates only male experience. The truth of our bodies and our minds has been mystified to us. We therefore have a primary obligation to each other: not to undermine each others' sense of reality for the sake of expediency; not to gaslight each other.

Women have often felt insane when cleaving to the truth of our experience. Our future depends on the sanity of each of us, and we have a profound stake, beyond the personal, in the project of describing our reality as candidly and fully as we can to each other.”
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