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A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (Dover Thrift Editions) [Paperback]

Mary Wollstonecraft
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 3, 1996 0486290360 978-0486290362 2
In an era of revolutions demanding greater liberties for mankind, Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) was an ardent feminist who spoke eloquently for countless women of her time.
Having witnessed firsthand the devastating results of male improvidence, she assumed an independent role early in life, educating herself and eventually earning a living as a governess, teacher and writer. She was also an esteemed member of the radical intellectual circle that included William Godwin (father of her daughter, novelist Mary Godwin Shelley, and later her husband), Thomas Paine, William Blake, Henry Fuseli and others.
First published in 1792, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman created a scandal in its day, largely, perhaps, because of the unconventional lifestyle of its creator. Today, it is considered the first great manifesto of women’s rights, arguing passionately for the education of women: "Tyrants and sensualists are in the right when they endeavor to keep women in the dark, because the former want only slaves, and the later a plaything."
No narrow-minded zealot, Wollstonecraft balanced passionate advocacy with a sympathetic warmth — a characteristic that helped her ideas achieve widespread influence. Anyone interested in the history of the women’s rights movement will welcome this inexpensive edition of one of the landmark documents in the struggle for human dignity, freedom and equality.

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Editorial Reviews


Great Ideas... is the right name for these slim, elegant paperbacks... They are written with precision, force, and care. -- The Wall Street Journal

Penguin Books hopes to provide an economical remedy for time-pressed readers in search of intellectual sustenance. -- USA Today --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

In this passionate reaction to Rousseau's pedagogical work Emile (1762) Wollstonecraft powerfully defends woman's ability to reason, given appropriate education. Her radical prescription was for girls to be educated alongside boys and to the same standard. Originally published in 1792, this is a foundational work of feminist political thought. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; 2 edition (July 3, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486290360
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486290362
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From a man's point of view June 25, 2006
I picked this book up in Boston waiting for my wife to order coffee and was instantly enamoured with the author's prose. At times I wondered if I was reading an essay or poetry.

Regardless, Mary Wollstonecraft summarizes the plight of women very well and the reader ( whether male or female ) gets a palpable sense of it's injustice.

She concludes that since the literate male giants like " Rousseau" bolstered the prevailing thought that men were made to reason and women to feel it is hardly suprising that women were oppressed.

From birth women, in the manor of pets, are trained in refining their "sensibilities" pursuing frivolity in "proper manners and etiquette" and stylish dress to the exclusion of cultural and intellectual development. Her only purpose to marry and become slave to the whim of her man's pleasure . Her drudgery and mindless existence is punctuated only by her childish outbursts. In such a state she is hardly capable of independent living let alone thought and utterly unfit as a mother. This state of affairs not only degrades women but men of reason and society at large since domestic affairs ultimately spill upon the fabric of society.

The baleful consequences of such forced behaviours are a romantic temperment reinforced by reading novels of the day instead of science or history the latter deemed "boring" since the women lack the capacity to understand it. Such women being deprived of intellectual stimulation focus on vanity which further corrupts their soul making them envious, bitter and mean. Any woman who dares to challenge this state of affairs is ostracized almost to the same extent as a woman who has lost her "reputation".

Mary Wollstonecraft writings are rife with social and political commentary which is refreshing. She is particularly critical of the upper class and their perpetuation of oppression.
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Have we really progressed? March 8, 2000
As I read this book, I find myself comparing the authors examples of the treatment of women by their fathers/husbands with the way women are today treated by the media.
Mary discusses how women are to be kept ignorant of all knowledge and only to be valued for their physical charms (almost every ad on TV/in print). The examples of her contemporaries that she quotes are frighteningly familiar.
Why is this so? Who determines that the education of females is not relevant to society. Sure they are allowed to go to school now, but they are still treated with amazing patronization and condescenscion? The amount of my (intelligent) female friends that insist they are dumb/ignorant/stupid/an idiot is disturbing. Maybe now females are allowed to learn, they should also be allowed self esteem.
I think I got sidetracked. This book is a complex and well written argument for the emancipation and education of women. It is as true today as much as it was 200 years ago. It is, however a slow read as the language is couched in the vocabulary of the late eighteenth century and many of the terms are unfamiliar.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Anthology With Every Angle April 20, 2003
This book has Wollstonecraft's A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN and a through Background, Debate and Criticism section. This book gives one everything needed to understand Wollstonecraft's personality strenghths and weaknesses according to authors from her time; a complete debate on the subject of women's rights from multiple authors (from different time periods); and an intense review by serveral other authors (within the last 25 years) on Wollstonecraft's success/failure. Every article in the book has been published independently of this book. This work also contains several journal articles.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The times they aren't a-changin' September 12, 2001
It is interesting to teach this book and track how students respond to this book, and how differently male and female students respond to the issues Wollstonecraft raises and discusses. We contextualize the book, and then extract it from its time and place and try to place the issues in our own time and place. A lot of great questions can be raised as we contemplate how far we have and have not come, and what can or should be done about that. . .and who shall do it. It is also an arresting exercise to ask students to apply different literary theories as they discuss this text. The idea is to encourage them to step out of their own shoes and into someone else's as they consider these issues. And it gives great opportunity to ask students to try to separate themselves from their own assumptions and stereotypes about gender and gender behavior, and reassess the issues in Wollstonecraft's time and place, and in light of today's assumptions and stereotypes, which can be harder to quantify than some presume.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars FOR STUDENTS WHO HAVE BEEN FORCED TO READ THIS August 3, 2001
By Saki
If you need to read this for a college or high school class, or as part of a women's studies project that you are doing for some other purpose, then I'd like to assure you that it won't be all that painful. You may even enjoy it and wish that you'd found this book sooner, all on your own. I was only assigned to read parts of it, but I finished the book by choice.
It's interesting and well writen. Some of the language and nearly all of the issues that are brought up are inflamatory. In class discussions I compared the book to "Fight Club," and was nearly laughed out of the room, but I am at least partly serious. It does have the edge of a social visionary who wanted to shake things up and blow old fashioned society out of the water. No soap bombs, though, but that's only a technicality.
If you have any choice in the matter I would suggest that you choose this book over stuffier works by less forward thinkers. I swear that reading it won't hurt that badly.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for young Women/men of all ages
Was a gift for my 11 year old niece she found it easily comprehensible. She told me found a few more people to do more research and write papers on. Even into freshman year lol. Read more
Published 10 months ago by TROYWD22
5.0 out of 5 stars Gotta love Norton CEs
I enjoy Norton critical editions because they give so much attention to the critical tradition and to the textual scholarship. Great book!
Published 14 months ago by philosofee
4.0 out of 5 stars the roots of feminism
I admit that I read this because it's mentioned in the forward to an edition of Pride and Prejudice that I recently read. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Nadyne Richmond
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful, interesting writing from a female Enlightenment thinker
I read Mary Wollstonecraft's piece, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, for a western civ class. Initially, I found the text hard to understand. Read more
Published on May 4, 2011 by Genevieve Klick
5.0 out of 5 stars The Irony is that MW Did Not See Herself as a Feminist
In both the Preface and the Introduction, Wollstonecraft emphasizes what she sees as the root cause of the failure of men to treat women as equals. Read more
Published on February 25, 2010 by Martin Asiner
4.0 out of 5 stars Where Feminism All Began
When Charles Maurice de Talleyrand wrote that the education of women should be limited to the home, Mary Wollstonecraft was annoyed enough to respond by directly addressing him in... Read more
Published on February 25, 2010 by Martin Asiner
5.0 out of 5 stars A Woman Prescient
When Mary Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792, the status of women in England was marked by a series of laws and customs that relegated them to... Read more
Published on February 6, 2010 by Martin Asiner
5.0 out of 5 stars Mary W. & Her Vindication
I am a student working on my Thesis--Frankenstein. As part of my research, I need to read A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and this edition is a valuable asset for my... Read more
Published on February 15, 2009 by Romantic Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Important read
This book is an important read in understanding the struggle for equal rights for women. It's sad that today in many cultures today women face the same problems that Ms. Read more
Published on October 3, 2008 by Brian
5.0 out of 5 stars A vindication of the rights of woman
A historic tract that lives up to its reputation.

It's hard to think that one would read any regency romances without also reading this book.
Published on May 7, 2007 by Robert M. Kaufman
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