Madame de Stael by Maria Fairweather
rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm rating this book (that Leah loaned me last year -- thank you!) so highly because of the subject matter: a politically influential genius of France's troubled revolutionary times, thought by all to be one of the time's most brilliant minds, but maligned by history as inconsequential. Every so often I encounter such historical women of genius and it angers me that I've never heard of them. Wikipedia quotes a 1911 encyclopedia that dismisses her ideas as unoriginal, but in reading her biography I understand this perception: when women are barred from politics, they must find other ways to influence history. This one was constantly surrounded by intellectuals and men of power; who is to say their ideas were not shaped by her? This woman was equal to Napoleon and his greatest social enemy. (A scene between them: she had prepared many arguments to counter his famous misogyny at a meeting—he short-circuits her by staring at her decolletage and asking if she'd nursed all her children.)
Girlfriends, I encourage you to find inspiration in Madame de Stael! I feel I have found a friend who shares my values and passions, and am eager to dig up her works and get to know her mind first hand.
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