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Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman

Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Emma Goldman
    Book Description:

    Emma Goldmanis the story of a modern radical who took seriously the idea that inner liberation is the first business of social revolution. Her politics, from beginning to end, was based on resistance to that which thwarted the free development of the inner self. The right to stay alive in one's senses, to enjoy freedom of thought and speech, to reject the arbitrary use of power-these were key demands in the many public protest movements she helped mount.

    Anarchist par excellence, Goldman is one of the memorable political figures of our time, not because of her gift for theory or analysis or even strategy, but because some extraordinary force of life in her burned, without rest or respite, on behalf of human integrity-and she was able to make the thousands of people who, for decades on end, flocked to her lectures, feel intimately connected to the pain inherent in the abuse of that integrity. To hear Emma describe, in language as magnetic as it was illuminating, what the boot felt like on the neck, was to experience the mythic quality of organized oppression. As the women and men in her audience listened to her, the homeliness of their own small lives became invested with a sense of drama that acted as a catalyst for the wild, vagrant hope that things need not always be as they were. All you had to do, she promised, was resist. In time, she herself would become a world-famous symbol for the spirit of resistance to the power of institutional authority over the lone individual.

    InEmma Goldman,Vivian Gornick draws a surpassingly intimate and insightful portrait of a woman of heroic proportions whose performance on the stage of history did what Tolstoy said a work of art should do: it made people love life more.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-17761-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Part I: Temperament
    (pp. 1-44)

    A handful of radicals throughout the centuries have intuited that a successful revolution includes a healthy passion for the inner life. One of them was the anarchist Emma Goldman. The right to stay alive in one’s senses, and to live in a world that prized that aliveness, was, for her, a key demand in any struggle she cared to wage against coercive government rule. The hatred she bore the centralized state was rooted in what she took to be government’s brutish contempt for the feeling life of the individual. Fellow radicals who exhibited a similar contempt were to be held...

  4. Part II: In the Life
    (pp. 45-91)

    Think Weathermen—the breakaway group of the new left for whom, in the late sixties, “propaganda by the deed” had become a compelling reality—and you’ve more or less got the mood of Sasha and Emma and their friends, still in their early twenties, in the first years of the last decade of the nineteenth century. Self-styled revolutionaries for whom industrial capitalism had daily become more viscerally intolerable (especially for Sasha), they were living inside an emotional pent-up-ness—easy to describe, almost impossible to analyze—that would soon require relief. So strong was this feeling of righteous rage that it...

  5. Part III: Exile
    (pp. 92-139)

    The 1917 sedition trial of Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, which ended with a two-year prison term for each, followed by deportation, ranks among the more egregious events in the history of political repression in the United States masquerading as protection of the democracy. For thousands of Americans, it was the distortion of the national ideal that hurt the most. “Who that heard it,” the radical journalist John reed wrote, “will ever forget the feeling of despair he experienced when Judge Mayer charged the jury, ‘This is not a question of free speech, for free speech is guaranteed under the...

  6. Part IV: Legacy
    (pp. 140-142)

    On her seventieth birthday, an admirer told Emma Goldman, “It was not what you did or said that helped me, but what you were, the mere fact of the existence of your spirit which never gives in and fights on no matter how thick is the darkness in the world and in our own little worlds.”

    No one ever said it better: the spirit that fights on no matter how thick the darkness.

    Emma Goldman was not a thinker, she was an incarnation. It was not her gift for theory or analysis or even strategy that made her memorable; it...

    (pp. 143-144)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 145-151)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 152-153)