“The most gifted and brilliant anarchist woman America ever produced.” – Emma Goldman Born into poverty and plagued by it her entire life, educated by nuns in a convent school, chronically ill, the survivor of a nearly successful assassination attempt, and dead at a tragically early age, Voltairine de Cleyre doesn’t seem a likely candidate to become what Paul Avrich called, “a greater literary talent than any other American anarchist.” But de Cleyre was undeniably one of the most important anarchist thinkers in the U.S. or any other country. Greatly admired by her contemporaries for her brilliant writing and tireless schedule of public speaking, her ability to approach the most complex issues with a mixture of common sense, passion and clarity makes her works as relevant today as they were a century ago. An advocate of “anarchism without adjectives”, her non-sectarian and inclusive worldview will appeal to a wide range of readers. Despite writing hundreds of essays, poems and stories for anarchist newspapers and other radical journals, de Cleyre’s work has been largely neglected, if not forgotten.
The Voltairine de Cleyre Reader, the first selection of her work published since 1914, brings together the best of her incredible output, including never before published material. From acclaimed essays like ‘Anarchism and American Traditions’ and ‘The Dominant Idea’ to lesser known pieces on feminism, marriage, direct action, education and other topics, this fully annotated collection captures the breadth and intensity of de Cleyre’s formidable style. It also includes 23 of her most powerful poems. Edited by A J Brigati, with an introduction from Barry Pateman of the Emma Goldman Papers. Emma Goldman described de Cleyre as someone who, “by sheer force of will pulled herself out of a living grave…turned her face to the sun, perceived a great ideal and determinedly carried it to every corner of her native land.” This volume takes up that task again, carrying de Cleyre’s message into the 21st century.
This post is also available in: Deutsch