Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark

by Mary Wollstonecraft

I read about this in a zine, Hyena in Petticoats, about M.W. and the zine author's obsession with her. I suppose it helps that I used A Vindication of the Rights of Woman as a major source for a college paper ("Teaching Madness," about the fate of well-educated young women in a society unprepared to accept them). Anyway, Wollstonecraft was a feminist pioneer, a real piece of work, and totally ahead of her time (and yet, being only human, she went a bit bonkers over a married man).

We think of Scandinavia as so civilized these days — maybe even more civilized, in some ways, than the rest of Europe and North America — so it's interesting to read an old-timey English woman's thoughts on traveling in what was then the wild, barbarian north. It's also quite interesting to consider how a generally progressive intellectual can still be so totally backwards in some ways. Makes one wonder what the future will find lacking in today's liberalism.

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