17 June 2008
WOLLSTONECRAFT, Mary (1759-1797). A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects. London: for J. Johnson, 1792.
8o (210 x 130 mm). (Title-page with neat closed tear just crossing the text.) Modern quarter calf antique, gilt.
"INDEPENDENCE I HAVE LONG CONSIDERED AS THE GRAND BLESSING OF LIFE, THE BASIS OF EVERY VIRTUE" (dedication)
FIRST EDITION. Dedicated to Talleyrand, contributing author of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, one of the fundamental documents of the French Revolution. Wollstonecraft's main argument was "built on this simple principle that, if woman be not prepared by education to become the companion of man, she will stop the progress of knowledge, for truth most be common to all" (page vii). "The main part of her book was written in an equally plain and direct style, and it was this, as well as the idea of writing a book on the subject at all, which caused the outcry that ensued" (PMM). Although there was nothing particularly shocking in her writings, there was much critical reaction, with Horace Walpole describing Mary as a "hyena in petticoats," while Hannah More found the very title so ridiculous that she publicly expressed her intention never to read it. PMM 242; Windle A5a.
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