- Women Writers
- Sand vs. Tristan
- --Rebels I
- --Rebels II
- --George Sand
- --Flora Tristan
- Women's Voices
summary of Whitney Walton's article
- The Events of 1848 and its Impact
on "Women of Letters"
- In 1848 Louis Philippe's July Monarchy
ended and the Second Republic began. Now in power was the Provisional
Government, a group of Bourgeois politicians. The "Women
of Letters" (Walton's name for the four women below) "hoped
that republicanism might cleanse government of selfish intriguers.
With the creation of the Provisional Government they all expected
a new type of leader to emerge who was honest, hard-working,
and dedicated to serving the people." (Whitney,
1009) This new leader, the "Women of Letters" believed,
would eventually liberate women. But in June of 1848, a worker's
revolt ended in violence, provoked by the Provisional Government.
The June Days, as they were later to be known, marked the failure
of the government to live up to the expectations of it's people.
"Leaders of the republic had, perhaps understandably, failed
to live up to an ideal of selfless public service, but worse,
they engaged in a civil war against the very people who had brought
them to power." (1012) After the June
revolt, the "Women of Letters" still refused to support
the women's suffrage movement, despite their new understanding
that the Provisional Government was not going to be the women
liberators after all. If the educated, economically independent
and politically experienced men could not govern democratically,
the "Women of Letters" did not believe the ignorant,
dependent and politically excluded women of 1848 could do any
better. (1015) For these women, writing
became their substitute for political action.
- George Sand
- "Should women
participate in politics some day? Yes, some day,... but is this
day near? No, I think not, and in order for women's condition
to be transformed, society must be radically transformed."
George Sand was the romantic idealist
who stood for socialism, equality, social justice and democracy.
"Her romantic socialism maintained that ordinary people
eventually would overcome the barriers of social inequality,
economic injustice and political hierarchy." (1008-09)
She was opposed, however, to political action on the part of
women, arguing that the public would view it as a form of promiscuity.
She believed that female liberation began at home and so she
encouraged the provisional government to change the laws of the
households in order to grant equality to women.
As for her own action, she felt that
she could better help the cause of women's freedom by writing
rather than fighting in a man's power game called politics. She
wrote: "Novels speak to the heart and to the imagination,
and when one lives in an era of egotism and callousness, one
can, in this way, strike hard to awaken consciences and hearts."
- Marie d'Agoult
- "...all progress
toward democracy in France will lead to corresponding progress
in the condition of women. The day that the people can express
its feeling in the making of laws, equality and fraternity will
no longer apply exclusively to one sex."
D'Agoult felt that both
the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie failed at national leadership.
The aristocrats were too self-interested and the bourgeoisie,
too obsessed with money. She believed that it was left up to
the women of these two classes to stimulate their men
into leadership. Similarly to Sand, D'Agoult "believed that
political equality should be the culmination, not the starting
point, for the advancement of women." (1014)
She felt that women should start with subtle reformation of those
around them by rational persuasion rather than political activism.
D'Agoult took it upon herself
to write the history of the 1848 Revolution. She intentionally
tried to remain unbiased in her accounting and felt that for
once her gender was helping her. After all, she was female and
so technically would have no political biases.
- Mme Delphine de Girardin
- "Oh! French
men are always the same--envious tyrants over their wives that
they pretend to love....The most abject cretin, if his imbecility
has the honor of being masculine, counts more in their eyes than
the most noble woman gifted with the greatest mind."
Until 1848, Girardin was simply
a witty newspaper columnist, writing under the pseudo name Vicomte
de Launay. That all changed, starting in May, when she first
began to verbalize the faults she found in the Provisional Government.
"Instead of working hard for a new government of simplicity
and honesty, they had maintained rituals and relations that were
no different from practices under the monarchy. For their personal
advancement they had exploited the people who fought on the barricades,
according to Girardin." (1010-11)
She later went on to directly blame the leaders of the Second
Republic personally for the working men's deaths during the June
Girardin went on to further
accuse the Provisional Government of incompetence: "Proof
that they do not understand the republic is that in their fine
promises for universal suffrage, they forgot women." (1015) Even male servants were free but all
women, regardless of class, were still un-liberated. She later
went on to say that "men must stop being jealous of their
power and generously allow freedom and responsibility to others.
The reward is harmonious families and society." (1021)
- Hortense Allart
- "As in earlier times women's
culture advanced civilization [and] gentled manners, so this
new age of culture for women will lead society far toward justice
and equality; as before coarse an warlike man was gentled by
women, so the free man will be moralized by them."
Contrary to the other three
"Women of Letters," Allart was not a supporter
of democracy. She felt that democracy drove genders and classes
away from their appropriate roles. Instead, she believed that
government should be left up to great statesmen and women in
order to bring about social and political reform. (1007)
Also unlike the three women above, Allart was not against women's
suffrage but instead, saw it as a way to get intelligent women
Allart looked to history, specifically
Greek, to point out the faults of democracy. In her history of
the Anthenian republic, she pointed out that governmental success
came out of the ruling leadership of men and women of genius.
(She also pointed out, approvingly, that the Anthenian's allowed
Today, Hortense Allart is virtually
unknown except amongst an elite few. Her private life lacked
the adventuristic nature of other feminists of her time and as
a result, she has mainly been overlooked.