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Marilyn French, Writer and Feminist Activist, Dies at 79

May 5, 2009
Marilyn French

Marilyn French

From the New York Times:

Marilyn French, a writer and feminist activist whose debut novel, ‘The Women’s Room,’ propelled her into a leading role in the modern feminist movement, died on Saturday in Manhattan. She was 79 and lived in Manhattan.

The cause was heart failure, said her son, Robert.

With steely views about the treatment of woman and a gift for expressing them on the printed page, Ms. French transformed herself from an academic who quietly bristled at the expectations of married women in the post-World War II era to a leading, if controversial, opinionmaker on gender issues who decried the patriarchal society she saw around her. ‘My goal in life is to change the entire social and economic structure of Western civilization, to make it a feminist world,’ she once declared.

I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never read her best-known novel, The Women’s Room, but I’m now adding it to my library list. According to the NYTimes article:

Gloria Steinem, a close friend, compared the impact of the book on the discussion surrounding women’s rights to the one that Ralph Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man’ had had on racial equality 25 years earlier.

‘It was about the lives of women who were supposed to live the lives of their husbands, supposed to marry an identity rather than become one themselves, to live secondary lives,’ Ms. Steinem said in an interview Sunday. ‘It expressed the experience of a huge number of women and let them know that they were not alone and not crazy.

What feminist authors are you reading?

One Comment
  1. May 6, 2009 11:45 pm

    I don’t read as many traditionally-published political writers anymore. I used to tear through the works of Mary Daly, Emma Goldman, Mary Wolstonecraft, Susan Faludi, feminists from all eras and philosophies. Now, most of my political reading takes place online.

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