Margaret Fuller: “A Short Essay on Critics”

(1840)

Margaret Fuller gained wide notice during the 1840s as one of the American Transcendentalist movement’s leading voices. Her work shared ideas in common with those of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, and Henry David Thoreau, among other writers, yet reflected distinctive concerns that were Fuller’s own. Through her published work, she sought to influence public opinion beyond the intellectual confines of her native New England. Fuller advocated freedom of expression tempered by high critical standards as a literary reviewer. As a journalist and travel writer, she sought to apply her reformist ideals to factual reportage. Her desire to advance women’s rights in American society led her to take on the conventions of her time as an essayist and author. Fuller’s works demonstrate her wide scope as a writer and her forward-thinking views about artistic, philosophical, and social questions.

Fuller was the first full-time American female book reviewer, a post she held...

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Margaret Fuller (Library of Congress)

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