quinta-feira, 23 de abril de 2015

The Rights of Women by Anna Laetitia Aikin (Barbauld)

The Rights of Women
by Anna Laetitia Aikin (Barbauld)


Yes, injured Woman! rise, assert thy right!
Woman! too long degraded, scorned, opprest;
O born to rule in partial Law's despite,
Resume thy native empire o'er the breast!

Go forth arrayed in panoply divine;
That angel pureness which admits no stain;
Go, bid proud Man his boasted rule resign,
And kiss the golden sceptre of thy reign.

Go, gird thyself with grace; collect thy store
Of bright artillery glancing from afar;
Soft melting tones thy thundering cannon's roar,
Blushes and fears thy magazine of war.

Thy rights are empire: urge no meaner claim,--
Felt, not defined, and if debated, lost;
Like sacred mysteries, which withheld from fame,
Shunning discussion, are revered the most.

Try all that wit and art suggest to bend
Of thy imperial foe the stubborn knee;
Make treacherous Man thy subject, not thy friend;
Thou mayst command, but never canst be free.

Awe the licentious, and restrain the rude;
Soften the sullen, clear the cloudy brow:
Be, more than princes' gifts, thy favours sued;--
She hazards all, who will the least allow.

But hope not, courted idol of mankind,
On this proud eminence secure to stay;
Subduing and subdued, thou soon shalt find
Thy coldness soften, and thy pride give way.

Then, then, abandon each ambitious thought,
Conquest or rule thy heart shall feebly move,
In Nature's school, by her soft maxims taught,
That separate rights are lost in mutual love.

On the Education of Women by Daniel Defoe

On the Education of Women
by Daniel Defoe


I have often thought of it as one of the most barbarous customs in the world, considering us as a civilized and a Christian country, that we deny the advantages of learning to women. We reproach the sex every day with folly and impertinence; while I am confident, had they the advantages of education equal to us, they would be guilty of less than ourselves. One would wonder, indeed, how it should happen that women are conversible at all; since they are only beholden to natural parts, for all their knowledge. Their youth is spent to teach them to stitch and sew or make baubles. They are taught to read, indeed, and perhaps to write their names, or so; and that is the height of a woman's education. And I would but ask any who slight the sex for their understanding, what is a man (a gentleman, I mean) good for, that is taught no more? I need not give instances, or examine the character of a gentleman, with a good estate, or a good family, and with tolerable parts; and examine what figure he makes for want of education. The soul is placed in the body like a rough diamond; and must be polished, or the lustre of it will never appear. And 'tis manifest, that as the rational soul distinguishes us from brutes; so education carries on the distinction, and makes some less brutish than others. This is too evident to need any demonstration. But why then should women be denied the benefit of instruction? If knowledge and understanding had been useless additions to the sex, God Almighty would never have given them capacities; for he made nothing needless. Besides, I would ask such, What they can see in ignorance, that they should think it a necessary ornament to a woman? or how much worse is a wise woman than a fool? or what has the woman done to forfeit the privilege of being taught? Does she plague us with her pride and impertinence? Why did we not let her learn, that she might have had more wit? Shall we upbraid women with folly, when 'tis only the error of this inhuman custom, that hindered them from being made wiser? The capacities of women are supposed to be greater, and their senses quicker than those of the men; and what they might be capable of being bred to, is plain from some instances of female wit, which this age is not without. Which upbraids us with Injustice, and looks as if we denied women the advantages of education, for fear they should vie with the men in their improvements.... [They] should be taught all sorts of breeding suitable both to their genius and quality. And in particular, Music and Dancing; which it would be cruelty to bar the sex of, because they are their darlings. But besides this, they should be taught languages, as particularly French and Italian: and I would venture the injury of giving a woman more tongues than one. They should, as a particular study, be taught all the graces of speech, and all the necessary air of conversation; which our common education is so defective in, that I need not expose it. They should be brought to read books, and especially history; and so to read as to make them understand the world, and be able to know and judge of things when they hear of them. To such whose genius would lead them to it, I would deny no sort of learning; but the chief thing, in general, is to cultivate the understandings of the sex, that they may be capable of all sorts of conversation; that their parts and judgements being improved, they may be as profitable in their conversation as they are pleasant. Women, in my observation, have little or no difference in them, but as they are or are not distinguished by education. Tempers, indeed, may in some degree influence them, but the main distinguishing part is their Breeding. The whole sex are generally quick and sharp. I believe, I may be allowed to say, generally so: for you rarely see them lumpish and heavy, when they are children; as boys will often be. If a woman be well bred, and taught the proper management of her natural wit, she proves generally very sensible and retentive. And, without partiality, a woman of sense and manners is the finest and most delicate part of God's Creation, the glory of Her Maker, and the great instance of His singular regard to man, His darling creature: to whom He gave the best gift either God could bestow or man receive. And 'tis the sordidest piece of folly and ingratitude in the world, to withhold from the sex the due lustre which the advantages of education gives to the natural beauty of their minds. A woman well bred and well taught, furnished with the additional accomplishments of knowledge and behaviour, is a creature without comparison. Her society is the emblem of sublimer enjoyments, her person is angelic, and her conversation heavenly. She is all softness and sweetness, peace, love, wit, and delight. She is every way suitable to the sublimest wish, and the man that has such a one to his portion, has nothing to do but to rejoice in her, and be thankful. On the other hand, Suppose her to be the very same woman, and rob her of the benefit of education, and it follows - If her temper be good, want of education makes her soft and easy. Her wit, for want of teaching, makes her impertinent and talkative. Her knowledge, for want of judgement and experience, makes her fanciful and whimsical. If her temper be bad, want of breeding makes her worse; and she grows haughty, insolent, and loud. If she be passionate, want of manners makes her a termagant and a scold, which is much at one with Lunatic. If she be proud, want of discretion (which still is breeding) makes her conceited, fantastic, and ridiculous. And from these she degenerates to be turbulent, clamorous, noisy, nasty, the devil!... The great distinguishing difference, which is seen in the world between men and women, is in their education; and this is manifested by comparing it with the difference between one man or woman, and another. And herein it is that I take upon me to make such a bold assertion, That all the world are mistaken in their practice about women. For I cannot think that God Almighty ever made them so delicate, so glorious creatures; and furnished them with such charms, so agreeable and so delightful to mankind; with souls capable of the same accomplishments with men: and all, to be only Stewards of our Houses, Cooks, and Slaves. Not that I am for exalting the female government in the least: but, in short, I would have men take women for companions, and educate them to be fit for it. A woman of sense and breeding will scorn as much to encroach upon the prerogative of man, as a man of sense will scorn to oppress the weakness of the woman. But if the women's souls were refined and improved by teaching, that word would be lost. To say, the weakness of the sex, as to judgment, would be nonsense; for ignorance and folly would be no more to be found among women than men. I remember a passage, which I heard from a very fine woman. She had wit and capacity enough, an extraordinary shape and face, and a great fortune: but had been cloistered up all her time; and for fear of being stolen, had not had the liberty of being taught the common necessary knowledge of women's affairs. And when she came to converse in the world, her natural wit made her so sensible of the want of education, that she gave this short reflection on herself: "I am ashamed to talk with my very maids," says she, "for I don't know when they do right or wrong. I had more need go to school, than be married." I need not enlarge on the loss the defect of education is to the sex; nor argue the benefit of the contrary practice. 'Tis a thing will be more easily granted than remedied. This chapter is but an Essay at the thing: and I refer the Practice to those Happy Days (if ever they shall be) when men shall be wise enough to mend it.

Flappers and Philosophers. By F. Scott Fitzgerald

Flappers and Philosophers  
By F. Scott Fitzgerald
By THE NEW YORK TIMES - September 26, 1920
     On the whole, "Flappers and Philosophers" represents the triumph of form over matter, just as, on the whole, Mr. Fitzgerald's novel, "This Side of Paradise," represented the triumph of matter over form. As in his previous book, Mr. Fitzgerald deals with the adolescents of America. But his eight short stories range the gamut of style and mood with a brilliance, a jeu perle, so to speak, which is not to be found in the novel. Therefore, with his first book running to the ranks of best sellers with a seventh edition, there is no telling what good fortune awaits this volume of excellent short stories-a form more to the liking of the American people than the novel. 

     It is fortunate that Mr. Fitzgerald begins his "set of eight" with his most romantic story, "The Offshore Pirate," for if the reader safely pulls out of the pirate's reach he can weather the remainder of the book with plain sailing and huge enjoyment. Mr. Fitzgerald realizes the nature of his story, however. He knows what he is about, and his first three words, "This unlikely story," show this plainly. 

     Probably the best stories of the octet are "Head and Shoulders," The Cut Glass Bowl," "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" and "Benediction." That Mr. Fitzgerald realized this when he flanked them with two others at each end seems more than likely. If a choice may be made between stories so different in character it is to "Benediction," then, that the choice falls. Here, it seems, Mr. Fitzgerald has most finely fused the best of the Russian school which he irradiates, with the O. Henry tinge which may be observed in almost all his stories. "The Cut Glass Bowl" perhaps shows more unity and skill in construction, but at the same time more artifice and less art. "Benediction," for power to move, for real feeling, is easily the first. "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" has the O. Henry whip snap on the end and "Head and Shoulders" displays a reverse twist of which that master can boast no better.

     Not the most superficial reader can fail to recognize Mr. Fitzgerald's talent and genius. So far as seriousness is concerned, no one appreciates the value of the Russian school better than he himself. The ingenuity which marks his works he may consider a necessity in American fiction today. It is the blatant tone of levity which runs through his work that almost drowns out the perception of this literary substance. But its overtones are unmistakable. Mr. Fitzgerald is working out an idiom, and it is an idiom at once universal, American and individual.

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This Side of Paradise
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

With College Men
By THE NEW YORK TIMES - May 9, 1920
 The glorious spirit of abounding youth glows throughout this fascinating tale. Amory, the romantic egotist, is essentially American, and as we follow him through his career at Princeton, with its riotous gayety, its superficial vices, and its punctilious sense of honor which will tolerate nothing less than the standard set up by itself, we know that he is doing just what hundreds of thousands of young men are doing in colleges all over the country. 

As a picture of the daily existence of what we call loosely "college men," this book is as nearly perfect as such a work could be. The philosophy of Amory, which finds expression in ponderous observations, lightened occasionally by verse that one thinks could have been evolved only in the cloistered atmosphere of his age-old alma mater, is that of any other youth in his teens in whom intellectual ambition is ever seeking an outlet. Amory's love affairs, too, are racy of the soil, while the girls, whose ideas of the modern development of their sex seem to embrace a rather frequent use of the word "Damn," and of being kissed by young men whom they have no thought of marrying, quite obviously belong to Amory's world. Through it all there is the spirit of innocence in so far as actual wrongdoing is implied, and one cannot but feel that the sexes are well matched according to the author's presentment. 

Amory Blaine has a well-to-do father and a mother who lives the somewhat idle, luxurious life of a matron who has never known the pinch of even economy, much less of poverty, and the boy is the creature of his environment. One knows always that he will be safe at the end. So he is, for he does his bit in the war, finds afterwards that his money has all gone and goes to work writing advertisements for an agency. Also, he has his supreme love affair, with Rosalind Connage, which is broken off because the nervous temperaments of both would not permit happiness. At least, so the girl thinks. So Amory goes on the biggest spree noted in the book-a spree which is colorfully described as taking in everything in the alcoholic line from the Knickerbocker "Old King Cole" bar to an out-of-the-way drinking den where Amory is "beaten up" artistically and thoroughly. The whole story is disconnected, more or less, but loses none of its charm on that account. It could have been written only by an artist who knows how to balance his values, plus a delightful literary style.

domingo, 19 de abril de 2015

THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED By F. Scott Fitzgerald - Latest Works of Fiction By LOUISE MAUNSELL FIELD - March 5, 1922

By F. Scott Fitzgerald
Latest Works of Fiction
     It would not be easy to find a more thoroughly depressing book than this new novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Beautiful and Damned." Not because there is something of tragedy in it-tragedy may be and often is fine and inspiring-but because its slow-moving narrative is the record of lives utterly worthless utterly futile. Not one of the book's many characters, important of unimportant, ever rises to the level of ordinary decent humanity. Not one of them shows a spark of loyalty, of honor, of devotion, of generosity, of real friendship or of real affection. Anthony Patch, most important of them all, lacks even physical courage. His one admirable quality is that of "understanding too well to blame," and the reader more than suspects that this refraining from blame is due more to his general laziness, his general inertia, than to anything else. The book traces, at very great length, with much repetition of a not particularly profound subtle psychological analysis and numerous dissertations, the course of his mental, moral and physical disintegration. In the beginning he is merely an idle, extravagant young man, a mental prig and snob, vain of what he regards as his "sophistication," seeing himself as one who "was aware that there could be no honor and yet had honor, who knew the sophistry of courage and yet was brave," realizing clearly and completely "that there was nothing to waste, because all efforts and attainments were equally valueless." His grandfather was a multimillionaire, and he was waiting for his grandfather to die. Such was Anthony Patch at 25, his age when the book begins, when it ends, some six years later, he has become a whining, whisky-soaked semi-imbecile.
     Gloria, the heroine, is beauty-physical beauty-incarnate. Her creed is enjoyment. Completely selfish, she declares: "If I wanted anything, I'd take it... I can't be bothered resisting things I want." Toward the close of the book she wants innumerable cocktails. And she does not resist her desire. She believes implicitly in her beauty and its power; she could endure her husband's degradation; but when she realized that her loveliness had begun to wane, she really suffered. From the time she was 16 she had been admired and embraced by men. Retaining her "technical purity," she offered her lips, not to one or two, but to scores. This she regarded as being brave and independent. Yet she had grace to recognize something at least of her cheapness, the appeal to her of "bright colors and gaudy vulgarity." Without fineness, fastidiousness or good taste, she yet possessed some small amount of endurance, and of courage. She did not, like Anthony, whine as soon as things began to go against them.
     About these two-and naturally enough, since people, like water, seek their own level-move a number of other small-souled individuals. The women most closely associated with Gloria are even cheaper than she is, and though the men who are Anthony's "friends" never quite fall into the abyss of physical degradation which engulfs him, it would be difficult to find anything to say in their favor. The book covers the war years, and Anthony is sent to Camp Hooker, where he occupies himself by getting drunk and picking up a mistress. Patriotism being in Mr. Fitzgerald's view, mere foolishness and hysteria, it is not surprising that he should depict the men Anthony meets in camp as another worthless lot. He is not ill-treated; officers and men are not cruel, but merely stupid and contemptible.
     Most of the scenes are laid either in New York or in the gray house, not far from the Post Road. Anthony and Gloria rented a few months after their marriage. There they entertained acquaintances at week-end parties, with the help of their Japanese servant, Tana; "then the room seemed full of men and smoke. There was Tana in his white coat reeling about supported by Maury... It appeared that everything in the room was staggering in grotesque fourth-dimensional gyrations through intersecting planes of hazy blue." Gloria did have one brief but violent reaction of disgust, but it was quickly over and "parties" of this kind were numerous, both in the country and in the New York apartment, where "there was the odor of tobacco always-both of them smoked incessantly... Added to this was the wretched aura of stale wine, with its inevitable suggestion of beauty gone foul and revelry remembered in disgust... There had been many parties-people broke things; people became sick in Gloria's bathroom; people spilled wine; people made unbelievable messes of the kitchenette." There is a great deal of this sort of thing, though neither Anthony nor Gloria confined their drinking bouts to their own apartment, or to those of their friends.
     So far as its style is concerned, much of the novel is well written, and Anthony's gradual loss of his mental curiosity, his gradual degeneration into "a bleak and sordid wreck" is convincingly depicted, though to the reader he never seems one-third as intelligent as the author apparently thinks him. The long conversations between Anthony and his two friends, Maury Noble and Dick Caramel, are often merely tedious and pretentious, in spite of the fact that now and then one of them does make a remark which is fairly clever. The general atmosphere of the book is an atmosphere of futility, waste and the avoidance of effort, into which the fumes of whisky penetrate more and more, until at last it fairly reeks with them. The novel is full of that kind of pseudo-realism which results from shutting one's eyes to all that is good in human nature, and looking only upon that which is small and mean-a view quite as false as its extreme opposite, which, reversing the process, results in what we have learned to classify as "glad" books. It is to be hoped that Mr. Fitzgerald, who possesses a genuine, undeniable talent, will some day acquire a less one-sided understanding.