"The reissued novel as introduced by Dana Seitler is refreshing at an historical moment in which questions about the purpose of American studies demand transcultural repsonses ..."---American Studies in Scandinavia, Vol 36:1, 2004 "[A] very interesting [novel], especially if you are a haunted reader of 'The Yellow Wallpaper.' Reading it is akin to poring over the sketches that (early or late) might surround the full-length work of the one-book writer. It allows us to trace in its pages evidence, scattered throughout, of the talent that ran restless in its author throughout her stormy, stubborn, furiously engaged years, yet flared into fully achieved life but once."--Vivian Gornick, The Nation "The Crux is an engaging polemic against Victorian sexual double standards. But rather than offering a narrative of sexual liberation, Gilman calls on readers to sacrifice personal pleasure for the nation... If this doesn't sound like the feminism you know and love, The Crux offers an invaluable education on the darker side of the women's movement... The Crux offers a fascinating look at a specific cultural moment in American history, while also reminding us to think critically about even the most 'progressive' movements."--Lauren Kaminsky, BustFrom the Publisher:
Long out of print, Charlotte Perkins Gilman's novel The Crux is an important early feminist work which brings to the fore complicated issues of gender, citizenship, eugenics, and frontier nationalism. First published serially in the feminist journal The Forerunner in 1910, The Crux tells the story of a group of New England women who move west to start a boarding house for men in Colorado. The innocent central character, Vivian Lane, falls in love with Morton Elder, who has both gonorrhea and syphilis. The concern of the novel is not so much that Vivian will catch syphilis, but that, if she were to marry and have children with Morton, she would harm the "national stock." The novel was written, in Gilman's words, as a "story ...for young women to read ...in order that they may protect themselves and their children to come." What was to be protected was the civic imperative to produce "pureblooded" citizens for a utopian ideal. Dana Seitler's introduction provides historical context, revealing The Crux as an allegory for social and political anxieties - including the rampant insecurities over contagion and disease - in the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century. Seitler highlights the importance of The Crux to understandings of Gilman's body of work specifically and early feminism more generally. She shows how the novel complicates critical history by illustrating the biological argument undergirding Gilman's feminism. Indeed, The Crux demonstrates how popular conceptions of eugenic science were attractive to feminist authors and intellectuals because they suggested that ideologies of national progress and U.S. expansionism depended as much on women and motherhood as on masculine contest.
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