Bluestockings: The Remarkable Story of the First Women to by Jane Robinson

By Jane Robinson

Robinson offers the eye-opening and encouraging tale of the 1st younger ladies who overcame the entire odds to get their schooling and attend college. utilizing the phrases of the ladies themselves, 'Bluestockings' charts the struggle for and growth of upper schooling for girls from 1869 via to the Nineteen Thirties.

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Although addressing Dorothy indi­ rectly, Coleridge nonetheless hits an open nerve, as this pas­ sage from her journal indicates: Coleridge came to us and repeated the verses he wrote to Sara. I was affected with them and was on the whole, not being well, in miserable spirits. 26 Derrida's term "phallogocentrism" is useful here. The human desire for a center and to be at the center manifests it- The Masculine Tradition 35 self in this "enormous and old root" in which the center is identified with the phallus and with the Word.

The Logos is a masculine pre­ rogative, handed down from Father to Son, and it is in words of approximately the same language that God addresses Adam and not Eve. God deprives Eve of her dignity by not speaking to her directly, with the result that Milton can say that she prefers to listen only to Adam, "not capable her The Masculine Tradition 31 ear I Of what was high" ( PL VIII, 49-50). The first human language act, naming the animals, is likewise Adam's. Synonymous with the things they name, his words have a portion of the power of God's own verbal powers, whereby words create the things they name: "and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof" (Genesis 2:19).

What may be usefully com­ pared to the Freudian model are the family relations that occur at the textual level, where we can fairly examine her representations of her mother and William. Our necessary ig­ norance about her actual experience can be supplemented by tracing her difficulties with the idea of the mother to her tex­ tual encounters with the variety of maternal figures created by William and also found elsewhere in literary tradition. Al­ though the letters and journals that form the bulk of Dorothy's writing are informal and might seem to be trans­ parent expressions of lived experience rather than literary texts, any writer selects what to write and what to leave un- 44 Dorothy Wordsworth written, and anything represented in words has to some de­ gree, however small, departed from experience and entered the realm of the imaginative.

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