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Socialism's Muse: Gender in the Intellectual Landscape of French Romantic Socialism Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0739108444 ISBN-10: 0739108441

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In Socialism's Muse Naomi Andrews convincingly argues that the feminine gendering of early French socialism failed the feminist cause. Male romantic socialists imagined a spiritual, interdependent society that imitated an idealized womanhood uncorrupted by public life. This ideal collapsed at the prospect of women's suffrage in the 1848 Revolution, and so did romantic socialism with its feminist promise. To paraphrase Andrews, "a dream cannot vote." This first-rate gender analysis offers new insight into socialism and feminism during the July Monarchy. (Whitney Walton, Purdue University)

This fascinating book brilliantly challenges traditional histories of feminism and brings to light the richness of socialist thought before Marx. Deftly analyzing a variety of eccentric figures, many of whom were attracted to the Virgin Mary and the trope of androgyny, Andrews demonstrates that early socialists promoted an idealized version of woman to advance their vision of a harmonious society. Their concern for social justice preempted their worries about political rights and gave their feminism an original twist. No historian before Andrews has ever managed to bring socialism, feminism, and romanticism together in such a riveting account. Socialism's Muse is an important book. (Mary Pickering, San Jose State University)

Socialism's Muse casts new light on the diversity and creativity of French Romantic socialism. It offers a fresh and engaging account of the significance of gender to socialism in the early nineteenth century. Rather than focusing on the best-known individuals, it reveals the important contributions made by others often dismissed as marginal. Andrews explains convincingly why the idealisation of 'woman' did not necessarily lead to greater gains for women during the heady days of the July Monarchy and the Second Republic. This is a nicely crafted work that should be read by anyone interested in these years, as well as in gender history and the history of socialism. (Susan Foley, Victoria University of Wellington)

Socialism's Muse is a fascinating and highly original study of the early history of French socialism and its relation to the emerging women's movement during the July Monarchy...a remarkably rich, suggestive, and above all original interpretation of early French socialism. (Jonathan Beecher, University of California, Santa Cruz)

...Andrews effectively demonstrates just how central the philosophical question of the nature and limits of individualism was to early socialist discourse. Her deft analyses of gendered fantasies on social cohesion provide a useful roadmap through the often tortuous labyrinths of romantic socialist thought... (H-Net: Humanities and Social Science Reviews Online, Michael C. Behrent, February 2008)

Naomi J. Andrews's book puts feminism back into socialism at its foundations, as an essential component of the ideal society envisioned by leading French social philosophers of the July Monarchy. By recuperating the work of Pierre Leroux, the Abbè Constant, Adéle and Alphonse Esquiros and others who hoped to replace a competitive society of atomized, masculine individuals with a less egoistic, harmonious, indeed feminized, world, Andrews helps us understand the significance and the appeal of a profoundly anti-individualistic, quasi-religious movement. This book brings a somewhat neglected group of thinkers out of the post-Marxist shadows, and makes an important contribution to both intellectual and women's history. (Marilyn J. Boxer, San Francisco State University)

About the Author

Naomi J. Andrews is a lecturer in the history department at Santa Clara University.

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