Margaret Fuller: Thoughts about feminism, knowledge and life

Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli (May 23, 1810 – July 19, 1850), commonly known as Margaret Fuller, was an American journalist, critic, and women’s rights advocate associated with the American transcendentalism movement. She was the first full-time American female book reviewer in journalism. Her book Woman in the Nineteenth Century is considered the first major feminist work in the United States.

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”

“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.”

“Men for the sake of getting a living forget to live.”

“There is no wholly masculine man, no purely feminine woman.”  

“Nature provides exceptions to every rule.”

“Very early, I knew that the only object in life was to grow.”

“The especial genius of women I believe to be electrical in movement, intuitive in function, spiritual in tendency.”  

“I am suffocated and lost when I have not the bright feeling of progression.”

“All around us lies what we neither understand nor use. Our capacities, our instincts for this our present sphere are but half developed. Let us confine ourselves to that till the lesson be learned; let us be completely natural; before we trouble ourselves with the supernatural. I never see any of these things but I long to get away and lie under a green tree and let the wind blow on me. There is marvel and charm enough in that for me.”  

“What a difference it makes to come home to a child!”

“Reverence the highest, have patience with the lowest. Let this day’s performance of the meanest duty be thy religion. Are the stars too distant, pick up the pebble that lies at thy feet, and from it learn the all.”

“There are noble books but one wants the breath of life sometimes.”

“Harmony exists no less in difference than in likeness, if only the same key-note govern both parts.”

“Male and female represent the two sides of the great radical dualism. But in fact they are perpetually passing into one another. Fluid hardens to solid, solid rushes to fluid. There is no wholly masculine man, no purely feminine woman… Nature provides exceptions to every rule.”

“Let every woman, who has once begun to think, examine herself.”

“What concerns me now is that my life be a beautiful, powerful, in a word, a complete life of its kind.”

“I now know all the people worth knowing in America and I find no intellect comparable to my own.”

“Beware of over-great pleasure in being popular or even beloved. As far as an amiable disposition and powers of entertainment make you so, it is a happiness; but if there is one grain of plausibility, it is poison.”

“Our capacities, our instincts for this our present sphere are but half developed. Let us be completely natural; before we trouble ourselves with the supernatural.”

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