October 5, 2012
Trials of Feminism: Representations of Margaret Fuller
Margaret Fuller has only recently become a popular subject for biographical research, as it was not until long after her death that her works were published in their complete form. Editors of her letters were very disrespectful of the material, and heavily censored or altered it before publishing. Furthermore, fellow contemporaries Hawthorne, Emerson, and Alcott wrote a fictitious account of her that belittled and often ignored her virtues in place of her flaws. Due to her misrepresentation in literary circles, it is wise to look at biographical representations of the visionary feminist with a grain of salt. However, Joan von Mehren’s comprehensive biography Minerva and the Muse: A Life of Margaret Fuller is more than worthy to serve as the ideal representation of her due to its careful reports of the details of her life from birth to death and its exclusion of authorial bias towards or against Fuller.
The biography itself was relatively easy to find. During the initial stage of the research process, the authors perused the library in search of worthy texts. After the area containing the biographies and letters of Margaret Fuller was found on the second floor, checks of the biographies were made. Minerva and the Muse was remarkable on sight, being one of the larger books in the collection by a comfortable margin. Upon a cursory glance, it was found to contain an incredible amount of detail about every aspect of Margaret Fuller’s life, revealing the author Joan von Mehren’s careful and comprehensive research. After the astounding amount of information warranted a second glance, the authors found a remarkable work that, while somewhat dry, is a strong and unbiased interpretation of the life of Margaret Fuller.
There are a multitude of reasons why von Mehren’s text is a paragon of authenticity and skilled research....